Caluag unfazed by poor seeding runBy Ted S. Melendres
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—The last Filipino standing at the 30th London Olympics was first on the ramp but ended up second to last in the standings. And he wasn’t worried about it.
Daniel Caluag touched off the men’s BMX competition at the Olympic dirt track here with an error-marred ride and timed 40.990 seconds to put himself in the disadvantageous outside lane of one of the four elimination heats Thursday.
The lone Asian in the 32-man event, Caluag wound up 31st in the seeding run designed to ensure the fastest riders don’t meet early in the runup to the eight-man finals and to determine the gate selection order of each rider.
Only Latvian Edzus Treimanis, who figured in a nasty spill and did not finish, ranked lower than Caluag in the time trials. The reverse starting order saw the world’s No.1-ranked rider, Sam Willoughby of Australia, starting last.
But the No. 84-ranked Caluag, who miscalculated the final U-shaped turn and failed to gather greater speed for home, shrugged off the seeding run, saying the “real battle” would happen in the massed-start single spins around the technically challenging track.
“The seeding run is not important, not one bit,” said the four-time US pro circuit No. 1 from Harbor City, California. “Realistically, the time trial is just another ride. In the end, we’re gonna just have to race with somebody.
“I’m definitely doing good and excited about tomorrow (Thursday). That’s the amazing thing about racing. You could be the fastest time trial rider, but if you can’t race with seven other guys, it doesn’t matter.”
Caluag said one of his strengths is racing against other riders.
“Definitely one of my specialties,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the quarterfinals tomorrow (Thursday). That’s exactly where I excel in.”
In the quarterfinals, riders ranked Nos. 1 and 2 from each heat after three runs (each run is a spin around the track) qualify for the semifinals. The riders ranked Nos. 3 and 4 from each heat after five runs also advance to the semifinals, with the remaining riders eliminated.
Caluag was to race at 3 p.m. (10 p.m. in Manila) Thursday against No. 2 seed Joris Daudet of France, Nicholas Long and David Herman of the United States, Marc Willers of New Zealand, Manuel de Vecchi of Italy, Roger Rinderknecht of Switzerland and Ernesto Pizzaro of Argentina.
The nursing student from California’s Lindsey College is the only Filipino still in contention at these Games following the heartbreaking elimination of long jumper Marestella Torres Tuesday night and Rene Herrera’s heroic, if comical, windup at the tail of a 5,000-meter run heat at Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
Torres came nowhere near her national record of 6.71 meters and blew her chance to reach the long jump semifinals for the second successive Olympics with a meager 6.22m leap, while Herrera im proved his old personal best by a huge 45 seconds by clocking 14:14.11.
Also out of the Games and merely waiting for their flight back to Manila are archers Rachelle Anne Cabral and Mark Javier, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jesse Khing Lacuna, lifter Hidilyn Diaz, skeet shooter Brian Rosario, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina and boxer Mark Anthony Barriga.
Barriga was the only Filipino to reach the second round but lost a controversial decision to a Kazakh wrestler of a boxer, Birzhan Zhakypov.
Caluag said he still liked his chances despite his miscalcuation at the last bend.
“I mis-negotiated it,” the 25-year-old said. “You know that’s riding, people misjudge things here and there.”
Caluag said the track, which has a “good mixture of technical and endurance” features, will not give the faster time-trial riders all the edge they need.
“We are all good competitors here, so in the end, I do what I want to do here,” he said. “My team is looking good here. We make the adjustments, making changes here and there.”