KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Conserving energy for the critical finals later in the day, Filipino-American Eric Shawn Cray worked just hard enough to hurdle the men’s 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles heats at the start of the 29th Southeast Asian Games athletics competition here on Tuesday.
Sporting braided hair, Cray topped his heat in the century dash in 10.58 seconds, content to place fifth overall behind Malaysian rival, Khairul Hafiz bin Jantan, who topped the qualifiers in 10.34 seconds at the 87,000-capacity National Stadium within the KL Sports City.
The Rio Olympic Games veteran also took his sweet time in the men’s 400-meter hurdles heats in clocking 52.60 seconds, yielding heat honors to Vietnam’s Phan Khac Hoang, who slipped past the defending Filipino champion in the last five meters in 52.54 seconds.
Shooting for a golden double, Cray was to first see action in the men’s 400-meter hurdles finals at 8:20 p.m. before trying to retain his standing as the Southeast Asian Games’ fastest man at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday night.
Also booking a spot in the women’s 100-meter finals at 9:30 p.m. was Fil-Am Zion Rose Nelson, who clocked 11.88 seconds in the heats.
Track action returns on Wednesday with Kayla Richardson, who gave up her SEA Games women’s sprint title, kicking off her quest for the women’s 200-meter gold starting with the heats at 3:20 p.m. together fellow Nelson.
Archand Bagsit and Trentan Beram also make their respective bids in the men’s 200-meter run at 3:40 p.m. while evergreen Arniel Ferrera returns to active duty for the men’s hammer throw at 3 p.m.
A two-time SEA Games hammer throw champion, Ferrera, an Air Force enlisted man, was called back to action after defending SEA Games hammer throw champion Caleb Stuart was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Another gold-medal hopeful, Mark Harry Diones, will compete in the men’s triple jump at 8:10 p.m. while Singapore SEAG silver medalist Marvin Guarte and Marco Vilog hope to strike paydirt in the me n’s 800-meter finals at 8:50 am.