KUALA LUMPUR: You win some, you lose some.
This was the fate that befell Eric Cray, who narrowly retained his 400-meter hurdles title but was so spent by the effort, yielding his 100-meter crown to Malaysian rival Khairul Hafiz Jantan at the start of 29th Southeast Asian Games athletic competition Tuesday night.
Cray made a desperate lunge at the tape in edging upset-conscious Vietnamese Quach Cong Lich, winning the men’s 400-meter hurdles race by 50.03 seconds to his rival’s 50.05 in the finals held under hot and humid conditions at the National Stadium at the KL Sports City in Bukit Jalil.
Despite being visibly drained by the experience, the Rio Olympics veteran still put up a gallant fight against the hometown favorite, who was just a step faster and topped the thrilling century dash finale in 10.38 seconds.
Cray salvaged the silver medal, nipping Thailand’s Kritsada
Namsuwun after both clocked identical times of 10.43 seconds.
“I did it my best shot in the 100 but the Malaysian did run a good race,” said the Olongapo City-born runner, who disclosed that he was still feeling pain all over his body from the lactic acid accumulated from the previous race.
“But if the 100 finals was run tomorrow, things could have been different,” added the Filipino-American of the grueling experience of running four races on the same day barely hours from each other.
As for his close call in the 400 hurdles, Cray said that he looked at the giant TV screen as they were making the last turn “and I saw the Vietnamese bearing down on me. It somehow cost me momentum because I was trying to save my energy (for the 100).”
He will have one last race in the men’s 4×100-meter relay on Friday.
Brimming with confidence, Cray surged ahead in the first 100 meters of the hurdles and looked headed for a leisurely win until Phan made his last-ditch move after the last hurdle, desperately chasing the Pinoy frontrunner, who slowed down a bit.
Sensing that the Vietnamese was bearing down on him, Cray scrambled in the last five meters, barely beating Phan to the lunge at the tape.
In other results, Evalyn Palabrica captured the women’s javelin throw bronze with a heave of 47.21 meters while Zion Rose Nelson finished eighth and last in the women’s 100-meter finals in 12.01 seconds.