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Cray wins 400m hurdles by a nose with focus on century dash

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Cray wins 400m hurdles by a nose with focus on century dash

/ 09:24 PM August 22, 2017

Eric Cray of the Philippines competes in the men’s 400-meter hurdles event of the 29th Southeast Asian Games. Cray clocked 50.03 seconds to win the gold medal. INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

KUALA LUMPUR—It could have been out of sheer confidence or an act of self-preservation. But Eric Cray noticeably, inexplicably decided to slow down after making the final leap in the men’s 400-meter hurdles final Tuesday night.

“I can’t be bothered right now, I was focusing on the 100 meter dash,” Cray later told reporters after the race, referring to the century dash final he needed to run an hour later.

The 28-year-old Cray, who is regarded as a rock star here even by foreign media, was even looking at the giant screen of Bukit Jalil Sports Stadium after the last hurdle.

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READ: SEA Games: Cray strikes gold in 400m hurdles 

And as he eased up on the way to the finish, muscle-bound Vietnamese Quach Cong Lich made things interesting by mounting a last-ditch chase and was soon breathing down the Filipino-American’s neck.

They ended the race in a photo finish—and Cray needed to crane his neck forward to gain whatever edge he could. But even then, both runners needed to wait for more than five minutes before the judges officially declared that Cray had successfully defended his title.

Cray, though, seemed to already know what the result would be. While Lich was listless throughout the wait for the official result, Cray was lying down on the track.

READ: Cray not concerned with tight schedule ahead

From lane No. 5, Cray led most of the way until the final turn to finish the race in 50.03 seconds, while the Vietnamese turned in an official time of 50.05 seconds.

The Texas-based Cray could have been refocusing as he would need it in an hour when he competes in the 100m dash—where he is also the defending champion.

Cray just came from the World Championships in England, where he was disqualified in the 400m hurdles for a false start.

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His stint in the Worlds was because of his recent triumph in the Asian Championships in India.

News and features about 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 19-30. Visit http://inq.news/seagames.

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TAGS: 100m dash, 400m hurdles, Athletics, Eric Cray, Philippines, SEA Games, SEA Games 2017
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