Cray bags bronze but still short of Olympic standard in Texas tilt
Eric Cray missed the Olympic qualifying time by nearly three seconds after placing third in the men’s 400m hurdles Michael Johnson Invitational at Clyde Hart Stadium in Waco, Texas.
Chasing to duplicate his 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic stint, Cray bagged the bronze medal in 51.62 seconds, way behind the Olympic standard of 48.90 seconds in his pet event.
Moitalel Mpoke of Texas A&M clinched the gold medal in 50.53 seconds while Pablo Ibanez of El Salvador reached the line a split second ahead of Cray in 51.32 for the silver medal.
There’s no need to panic though as Cray, the four-time Southeast Asian Games 400m champion, still has several chances of nailing a berth in the Tokyo Olympics with nine more races prior to the qualification cutoff in June.
The 32-year-old SEA Games record-holder has a whirlwind schedule in the coming days as the Filipino-American travels to New Mexico on April 22 for the Don Kirby Tailwind Open and proceeds to Iowa for the Drake Relays on April 24 before the Texas Meet on April 30.
Cray is likewise scheduled to participate in My Sac Relays on May 9, Pro Track Series LA on May 14-15, USATF Open on May 18, PV USATF Invitational on May 25, Pro Track Series Iowa (May 31) and Pro Track Series Nashville (June 5)
Cray won the gold at the 2019 SEA Games in 50.21 seconds, but his personal best is 48.98 seconds during the Meeting de Atletismo Madrid in Spain nearly five years ago that sealed the deal for him to carry the country’s colors in 2016 Rio De Janeiro.
The Philippine men’s 100m record-holder (10.25 seconds) wound up seventh in the 400m hurdles semifinals in Rio with a clocking of 49.37, good enough to shatter his national and SEAG record at that time. During the qualifying heat, Cray clocked 49.05.
Meanwhile, sprinter Kristina Knott will see action in the 10th Savona International Meeting in Savona, Italy on May 17 with high hopes of achieving the Olympic qualifying mark of 11.15 seconds in the women’s 100m and 22.80 seconds in the 200m.
Knott, the reigning SEA Games 200m champion and record-holder, has a personal best and national record of 11.27 in the 100m and 23.01 in the 200m.
Both the 25-year-old Knott and Cray possess great chances of joining pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena in Tokyo.
Other Filipino qualifiers in the coming Summer Games on July 23-August 8 are gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam.