RIO DE JANEIRO: Filipino-American Eric Cray wowed to put on a good show in Rio and hoped to make it to the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles in his first Olympics.
Cray arrived from El Paso, Texas via Houston Friday morning (Saturday in Manila) and rested just a few hours before joining the Philippine delegation to the opening ceremony.
The 27-year-old runner, who was born in Olongapo but grew up in the United States, is the back-to-back champion and record holder in the Southeast Asian Games.
His time of 49.40 seconds in the 400m hurdles stands as the SEA Games record.
However, Cray said it’s in the Olympics where he wants to leave a mark or at least make an impression. He races on August 15, hoping to reach the finals on August 18.
“Hopefully I get a good Rio showing to I can make it to the finals. I feel real good,” said Cray just moments after he arrived at the Athletes Village here.
He said the Olympics hasn’t kicked in yet but said joining the opening ceremony at the historic Maracana Stadium helped him get into groove.
“I wanted to let it sink it. It still hasn’t hit me,” he said.
Cray traveled 17 hours from El Paso, and should have not much problem with jetlag because there’s just a three-hour difference between Texas and Rio.
He said it was funny he traveled 17 hours for a race that wouldn’t last 50 seconds.
“The trip was pretty long, and I’d be racing like fifty or 49 seconds,” he said in an interview just as he was checking in.
The fastest man in Southeast Asia was glad that races here will be held in the morning because he’s used to train at the same time in Houston.
“It’s a morning race and it’s pretty good because I’ve been practicing in the morning,” he said.
“I feel great coming here,” added Cray, who looked good wearing his “barong” for the opening ceremony that took place at the packed stadium.
Cray said he was excited about a couple other things and they don’t include seeing the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.
“I’ve seen him in a lot meets. I’ve been used to it so it’s not gonna be too exciting for me. I’m not gonna be too excited to see him,” he said.
“But definitely I want to see some NBA players,” said Cray.