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Flag flap spoils Fil-Ams’ moment of glory

/ 06:10 AM June 11, 2015
KAYLA Richardson (left) and Eric Shauwn Cray are unaware that the Philippine flags on their running suits are upside down as they celebrate their victory in the men’s and women’s 100-meter runs on Tuesday.  RAFFY LERMA

KAYLA Richardson (left) and Eric Shauwn Cray are unaware that the Philippine flags on their running suits are upside down as they celebrate their victory in the men’s and women’s 100-meter runs on Tuesday. RAFFY LERMA

SINGAPORE—A wardrobe malfunction related to their national flags has punctured the joy of two Filipino-American athletes after they won a Southeast Asian Games 100-meter sprint double.

US-based Eric Cray and Kayla Richardson both won gold on Tuesday, but the Filipino flags on their vests were upside down, with red rather than blue at the top. This officially means the country is at war.

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But the gaffe is particularly unwelcome for Cray and Richardson, who are at pains to point out their Filipino heritage despite their US upbringing and American accents.

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In Manila, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told the Inquirer: “It is only the patch of the flag that was inverted. We hope this was a mere oversight. We are proud of the glory that our athletes achieved for the flag and the country.”

Philip Juico, president of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, said the inverted flag was a “supplier error” and had been corrected.

“We are also asking the supplier to publicly explain this lapse. This minor lapse should not, however, diminish the fact that our athletics team is performing in an outstanding manner and is doing the country proud,” Juico said.

On Wednesday, Cray won a second gold, breaking the 20-year-old mark of Thailand’s Chanon Keanchan (49.76 seconds) in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. This time, the flag on his singlet was right side up.

Cray and Richardson are in good company.

In 2013, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin carried a Filipino flag upside down as he campaigned for aid to typhoon victims in the Philippines.

And in 2010, the United States had to apologize after US President Barack Obama led a meeting of world leaders which also featured an inverted Philippine flag.

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Cray, who has qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the 400-m hurdles, switched to Philippines representation in 2011, while Richardson has visited the country only once on holiday.

Some critics frown on Manila’s policy of scouring for overseas talent with Filipino ties, but Cray said it was a “great honor” to run for the Philippines.

“I just feel that if you have Filipino blood and you cherish the traditions of the Philippines, you know it’s a great honor for me to be able to represent it and I am just happy that they allow me to do so,” he said in Singapore.–With reports from AFP and Nikko Dizon in Manila

Originally posted as of 12:56 PM | June 10, 2015

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: 2015, Abigail Valte, AFP, Eric Cray, Kayla Richardson, Manila, Philippine flag, Philippines, READ, SEA Games, Southeast Asian Games
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