Filipino-American rider Patrick Coo did not make the grade for cycling's BMX racing in the Tokyo Olympics, but gained much in terms of experience when he competed against veterans at the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Bogota.
"I'm always proud to represent the Philippines in any competition abroad," said the 19-year-old Coo. "I'll give it another shot."
"It's been my dream, and I hope to win a medal for the Philippines," he added.
Coo was given the call-up to vie in the Olympic qualifiers in the Colombian capital, thus foregoing his classification in the UCI BMX cycling as an under-23 rider to an elite competitor.
In Round 3 of the World Cup, he finished 42nd in a field of 62, before ending up 45th in Round 4 on Saturday. Coo faltered in the Last Chance Races as well, as he didn't gain any points in the competition that could have boosted his chances of making it to the Tokyo Games.
"It was really a last-minute thing, and we did our best," said Coo, who was accompanied in Bogota by PhilCycling coaches Ednalyn Hualda and Frederick Farr.
"I'm so thankful to everyone, especially to Congressman Abraham Tolentino for assembling this really quick," he added. "We really gave our all. My first World Cup — with a big expectation — I tried to live up to it but it was hard, my best wasn't good enough."
Tolentino, also the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, expressed his pride at Coo's efforts and said this was just the beginning for the young cyclist.
"He's still young and he's got a lot of BMX racing ahead of him," said Tolentino.
Coo was the lone Filipino -- and only Asian -- to vie in the Bogota event. Daniel Caluag, the 2014 Asian Games gold medalist and London 2012 Olympian -- skipped the qualifier, saying he was not in shape as his job as a medical frontliner in Kentucky kept him from training during the pandemic.
For Coo, the experience he got in Bogota only inspired him to work harder.
"Every time I compete in the US, I have a Philippine logo in my jersey uniform," he said. "I am planning to train and compete at home.
"I have learned that the junior league speed is different in the Olympic qualifying level and we're going to step up in the next few races," he vowed.