MANILA, Philippines – Out of the ashes of another failure by Marestella Torres rose Eric Cray’s superb run that made him a finalist in the 400 meter hurdles in the Asian Games heats on Tuesday, September 30.
Running in the dangerous lane 8, the Olongapo native Cray timed 50 seconds, a new Philippine record, in the heats, making him the nation’s first finalist in this event since Jaime Grafilo in the 1982 Asian Games. Grafilo landed fourth despite setting a Philippine record.
“Eric is running well. I expect him to go faster,” said Keith Sharper, Cray’s coach in the US, told Rappler in private message.
Grafilo, in a phone interview with Rappler, said that when he drew lane 8 when he won the 1981 Southeast Asian Games in Manila:” My lead leg is right so I had to shift in such a way that my left leg will clear. Otherwise, [I] can be disqualified for side clearing. Bumubuka ako (I had to open up). Hindi ako gumigitna”
Jojo Posadas, a many-time former national coach, added :”Pipihit ka talaga pag nasa outer lane ka.” (You have to shift)
But Cray has the rare ability to clear hurdles with the left or right leg and this helped him come up with that big run. He is expected to draw one of the easier middle lanes in tomorrow’s finals.
Torres fouled all her three attempts to enter the final 8 in the women’s long jump Monday night in a meltdown like the 2010 Asian Games.
Torres’ inclusion was lobbied by the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association despite missing the standard by a few centimeters and her record as former Asian champion. The screening committee granted the request on August 17.
Torres gave birth on January 25 and trained a month later for the Asian Games. She sculpted her body back into its muscular form but had to scramble to get enough drills and competitions to sharpen her once again.
Her coach Joseph Sy, who did not join the trip, told Rappler that Torres was emotionally down after the event but did not cry. “She told me at Viber that she has accepted that the Asian Games may never be hers.”
Sy said Torres tends to go all out and lengthen the last stride which results in getting fouled. “She has to keep her emotions in check,” he said.
But Torres, 33, is expected to avenge her setback in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games where she will face the Asian Games champion Maria Natalya Londa of Indonesia, who won in 6.55. Torres’ personal best is the Philippine record of 6.71 meters.
Cray’s win also made up for the disappointing performance of the heats of the men’s 4×400 meter relay. A powerful first leg by Archand Bagsit, second runner from Eduardo Alejan Jr and Julius Nierras made the Philippines third before the anchor leg, which was badly run by Isidro del Prado Jr. The team clocked 3:11 and finished sixth. – Rappler.com
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