Crash in practice leaves Caluag bruised but okayBy Ted S. Melendres
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—Daniel Caluag himself said it’s part of the hazards of the trade.
Zipping by at a speed exceeding 50 kilometers per hour on his titanium-frame bike, Caluag misjudged a turn as he landed off an eight-meter ramp and crashed shoulder-first onto the dirt.
Friday’s crash left bruises on his shoulder and hand, forcing the 25-year-old Filipino-American to skip the rest of the practice runs in Birmingham, the venue of the recent world championships where he qualified for the 30th London Olympics.
“Got bruises, no broken bones luckily,” Caluag told the Inquirer as he headed back to the Athletes Village with his Mexican-American wife Stephanie, also a BMX ace who also serves as his mechanic in these Games. “The foot left the pedal as I landed, but I’m okay.
“There’s nothing to worry about, really. That (spill) is normal in BMX (bicycle motocross).
Caluag, son of Filipino physicians from Harbor City, California, is the only Asian in the starting field of 32 in one of cycling’s toughest but most exhilarating events. He has been previously ranked as one of the Olympic race’s dark horses by the International Cycling Federation, known by its French acronym UCI, for his fine results in the United States pro circuit, which he topped for four years.
Stephanie said he knew Daniel was alright when he got up after the spill, picked up his bike and walked toward her smiling.
“He wouldn’t smile if he was hurting,” she said. “I knew that he was OK.”
The culprit was Caluag’s pedal wrap which unclipped before he cleared the ramp following a daredevil downhill run. On impact, he fell on his right side and slid several meters.
The only Filipino deemed to have a fighting chance for a medal here, apart from light flyweight boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, plunges into action on Aug. 8 at a highly technical 400-meter track at Olympic Park in Stratford.
Caluag gets to test the track, said to have been copied and built to the same specifications by the American team in Chula Vista, California, on Monday.
“I have seen the course (at Olympic Park),” he said last week. “Every track is different. This one has 3-meter jumps; that’s super tough. The lips are a little different (from the tracks he trained in) but it should be a fun race.”
Qualification to the next round seems to be a cinch for Caluag, who will race in one of the four heats of eight riders with the top four advancing to the two-heat second round. The top four from each heat then advance to the final medal race.
“Being the only Asian in the field makes me real proud,” said Caluag, who is taking up nursing at Lindsey College in California with Stephanie and expects to graduate in 2014.