Caluags open BMX medal bid
INCHEON, South Korea—The country’s BMX aces kick off their 17th Asian Games campaign on Wednesday and riding with them is the country’s hopes for a gold medal here.
“The team is ready and our chances are good,” said coach Greg Romero, who oversaw practice rounds by brothers Daniel and CJ Caluag on Tuesday at Ganghwa Asiad BMX track. “There are a lot of good riders here, the best in Asia, but I feel we can compete.”
The team is awash in optimism, refusing to buckle under the pressure of being one of the last few hopes of a gold medal here.
“I mean, if this were all about gaining experience, I wouldn’t be here,” said Romero. “I’m here because this is about going for the gold medal.”
“I’m looking forward to bringing back a gold medal to show that the Philippines can compete with the best in the world,” said Daniel, who led a gold-bronze finish for him and CJ in the Myanmar Southeast Asian Games.
The brothers are looking to better that finish in the picturesque Ganghwa countryside, which is about two hours away from Incheon’s city center.
“Gold-silver maybe,” said CJ, smiling.
The two looked good on the track, which dried up after getting muddied by heavy rains that plunged Incheon into low temperatures on Monday, and PhilCycling president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the dried-up track augurs well for the BMX riders.
“One thing that will really affect the team is a wet track,” said Tolentino. “We’re glad it has dried up and we’re even happier that the forecast for tomorrow is also good.”
Both riders made good use of their practice time, squeezing as many rounds as possible to familiarize themselves with the track.
“We’re really glad we got a lot of practice today,” Daniel said.
“Inaawat ko na nga, ayaw pa eh (I tried to hold them back, but they wouldn’t stop,” said Tolentino.
“I feel really good,” said CJ. “We feel pretty strong and we feel like we can win. We can’t underestimate the opposition because they’ve been here before but if we get our heads right and focus, we should be able to contend.”
Only eight BMX riders qualified for the Asiad and they will race against the clock to determine their positions before plunging into a three-round heat to determine the top three finishers.
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