JAKARTA -- After falling well short of expectations in the 2018 Asian Games, track star Eric Cray is hoping to get more support from Philippine sports officials as he builds up for the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.
Cray, the hurdles king of Southeast Asia, finished a disappointing seventh in the 400-m hurdles at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta last Monday, with a time of 51.53 seconds. He later called it “probably the worst race I had in my career.”
The 29-year-old athlete had hoped to contend for a medal, especially after ruling the Asian Championships in India last year.
But his preparation for the Asian Games was less than ideal, leading to a subpar performance that was capped by the Philippine team’s failure to make it to the finals of the 4x100 relay on Wednesday night.
“My preparation wasn’t the best,” Cray admitted to reporters afterward. “I gotta work harder, make some changes to my training and go to the SEA Games ready, ready and firing to defend my title.”
Cray had been quite emotional following his race on Monday night, and just reliving the event was clearly painful for the athlete.
He had been unable to train full time to for the Asian Games, as he was still working in his day job in a department store back in the United States.
“As you can imagine, working in a department store, you stand on your legs all day, and by the time I get done with practice, or if I got to practice afterward, my legs are dead and fried. So I’m out there training on dead legs,” he said.
“I’m not really getting anything out of it,” he added.
If he hopes to retain his hurdles crown in the SEA Games next year -- and regain the 100m crown that he still believes he was “cheated out of” in Kuala Lumpur -- then this situation has to change.
“Next year, I’m hoping that I get some type of help and funding and train full time and not have to work a job, and come to the SEA Games ready and prepared,” said Cray.
Cray made it clear that he does receive help from the Philippine Sports Commission -- only, it is not quite enough for him to be a full-time athlete.
“I receive the help. They care for me,” he stressed. “But, well, hopefully I can get a little bit more help.”
He now intends to map out his path for the next year together with PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico and coach Rohsaan Eugene Griffin, with the goal of dominating once more in the SEA Games and hopefully, making his way to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“The first up is always the SEA Games,” Cray said. “That’s the first. There are championships coming up too, so to go and be prepared for the Olympics, you have to go and win every title that is coming up.”
“So that’s the SEA Games, Asian Championships, and any other championships that are in the way,” he added. “You have to go and win those titles, beat the competition to prepare you mentally, physicallyf or the rigorous training for the Olympics.”
“That’s always the goal, and it’s just one step at a time. First up next year is the SEA Games.”
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