Going into the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, defending 400m hurdles champion Eric Cray has solidified his top seed position as he now ranks 7th in the world stage, setting a new Personal Best (PB) and Philippine Record in the process.
In the world rankings, the leader so far for 2015 is 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson, who also holds four of the fastest times this year so far. Ranking 17th is 2012 London Olympics silver medalist Michael Tinsley.
Cray, who is also the Philippine record holder for the 100m dash and 110m hurdles, clocked 49.12 seconds in the 400m hurdles last May 16, yet again improving his quarter-mile hurdling capabilities.
In 2012, Cray’s PB was 50.46 seconds, which amounts to shaving off 1.34 seconds in three years.
A year later, he ran an easy 51.29 second finals in the 2013 SEA Games to win the gold medal. Another year later, he raced fast in the 2014 Asian Games heats clocking 50.00 seconds, but faded away in the finals with 51.47 seconds. However, had he run 49.12 seconds last year, he would’ve won the gold by 0.59 seconds.
This performance is also well above the SEA Games record of Thailand’s Chanon Keanchan, who clocked 49.76 back in 1995.
With this performance, Cray officially qualifies for the 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics this August and also for the prestigious 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.
Clocking 49.12 seconds goes well above the qualifying standards of the IAAF World Championships which is 49.50 seconds and also the qualifying standards of the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro which is 49.40 seconds.
However, according to the results of the 2012 Olympics at London, Cray’s PB will only be enough to qualify him for the semifinals. Moreover, 49.12 seconds is still far from Saudi Arabia’s Hadi Soua’an Al-Somaily’s Asian Record of 47.53 seconds, a record set in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney.
Cray has a long way to go, but with his current progression and the support he’s getting, we might see a sub-49 second run for next year. If all goes well, then we might see him qualify for the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles next year at Rio. Even better, after so many years of waiting, the country may finally win a medal again in Athletics.
Photo from Eric Cray’s Facebook page
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