JAKARTA, Indonesia – Eric Shauwn Cray was supposedly a medal contender in the 400m hurdles of the 2018 Asian Games. But when he crashed to his worst performance after peaking in the 2016 Rio Olympics, it stirred questions on what happened in that time in between.
"Oh, you’re making me relive it huh," he started, admitting to the anguish he felt for finishing seventh in the hurdles event of the continental games.
"[That was] just probably the worst race I had in my career, I won Asian Championships last year, so I should’ve been a contender here for a medal, and my preparation probably wasn’t the best."
The Filipino-American only had two months of training prior to the Asian Games. This was following his unnotified absence in the 2018 Korea Open last June that triggered the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) to conduct an investigation.
"It was a miscommunication," explained Cray.
"I have a job in the States, so I do work so it’s hard to plan and train full time, and be able to leave my job and be able to compete when needed."
The hurdles sensation still has big dreams such as dominating the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila – including topping the 100m dash to reclaim his "Southeast Asia's fastest man" title – and snagging his second Olympic berth.
Cray just has a large road block ahead of him that's preventing him from all these: juggling his full-time job in Texas on top of his training.
"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 go to practice afterward, my legs are dead and fried, so I’m out there training on dead legs," described Cray.
It also did not help that he doesn't receive training fund and had an allowance cut early this year, which forced Cray to take an additional side job to raise his four children.
"It took a lot of my time in training," Cray told Rappler in a separate text message.
Although the National is stil grateful for the help from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), he admittedly needs more financial assisance to train as a full-time athlete.
"[The PSC officials] said that they will still be analyzing all the systems for the allowances for the athletes," said PATAFA director Jeanette Obiena, explaining the slash in funding.
Going back on top
Cray was exhausted from his disappointing Asiad stint, but reminiscing about his first Olympics stint still puts a smile on his face.
"I went to the Olympics in 2016, I ran the best I’ve ran in my life," recalled Cray.
"I made it to the semifinals, and I just hit hurdle 10. I was on the road to being in the finals, but when you get to the finals in any competition, anything can happen."
As he hopes for more financial support to come along his way, the Texas-based National is determined to realize his dream of making back to world's most prestigious quadrennial meet.
Cray already plans on speaking to PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico and his coach Rohsaan Eugene Griffin to help him map out a program that will catapult him back to the top of the podium.
"You have to go and win every title that is coming up before that, so that’s SEA Games, Asian Championships, and any other championships that are in the way," said Cray. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.