With medal finish a stretch, Eric Cray puts Paris in crosshairs


FILE PHOTO: Eric Shauwn Cray of the Philippines reacts after winning the men’s 100m final athletics event during the 28th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Singapore on June 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA

Eric Shauwn Cray will show the world what he’s capable of in a rare appearance among the fastest full hurdlers on the planet.

A medal in Cray’s event in the men’s 400 meter (m) hurdles at the 2023 World Athletics Championships though seems improbable given the layout of the field packed with world-ranked runners.

So the six-time Southeast Asian Games champion and record-holder will angle for the next best thing—a farewell bid to a long brilliant career in next year’s Paris Olympics.

“Eric is looking to blaze out in glory with the Paris Olympics in mind as his swan song,’’ said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association secretary general Edward Kho.

The former Asian champion should beat the Olympic qualification clocking of 48.70 beginning on Sunday’s preliminaries at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary, where 45 hurdlers from 32 countries are enlisted in six heats.

Should Cray, whose personal best is 48.98 seconds, advance to the succeeding phase, He will figure in the semifinal heats on Monday. The medal race is scheduled for Wednesday.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm is the present world record holder of 45.94 seconds, way ahead of Americans No. 2 CJ Allen (47.58) and third-ranked Rosser Khallifah (47.59).

“I’m cool about returning to the Olympics. The perseverance that I have, the drive and dedication for two years and the ups and downs, it’s hard,’’ said the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian Cray on his return bid to the quadrennial spectacle.

“I’m just happy to keep going,’’ added Cray, who missed the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to injuries.

Robyn Lauren Brown another hurdler, also has made it to Budapest by topping the recent Asian championships in Bangkok, Thailand and will show up at the starting block of the women’s 400m hurdles on Monday. INQ

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