PH hurdler Eric Cray not intimidated by Olympic competition

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - Eric Shauwn Cray is aware of the Moses-like task ahead of him.

Yes, Edwin Moses, the American hurdler who dominated the sport and the event from 1976-1987 winning 122 consecutive races.

Although the Philippines has garnered one medal in this Rio Olympics, the rest of his colleagues are falling out of the competition, many in the first round alone. “I feel for everyone else but right now but we cheer for who is left. I also have to concentrate on my own competition,” said the Filipino-American who was born in Olongapo but now calls El Paso, Texas home.

Cray will be competing in his lone event of this Olympics, the 400-meter hurdles, on Monday, August 15.

The 27-year old trackster was born to an American serviceman, Ellis, who was once assigned to Subic Naval Base, and the former Maria Brosas. He later emigrated to the US where he spent his formative years. It was a request by his mother to represent the country in national competition instead of the USA. “She said I would have a chance to change the athletic culture in the Philippines. If I can help, why not?”

Cray was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for Rio after passing the time trials in the Cayman Island Invitations last year (aside from winning the 2015 Southeast Asian Games gold in Singapore).

“There’s quite a field of world-class athletes here,” observed Cray. “But I am not caught up in that having gone against them in previous competitions. I’m just continuing to practice and train for my event and give it my best shot. I also make sure to maintain my focus and be confident about myself. That’s all I can do for now,” said the 5-foot-9 hurdler when talking about his preparation.

“You can’t allow yourself to get star struck because that will mess up your confidence,” added Cray who is a first-time Olympian. “I’m here. The fact that I am here not as a wild card entry but because I qualified means I am among an elite field. I just have to bring it.”

After compatriot Hidilyn Diaz ended the Philippines’ 20-year medal drought by winning a silver, Cray hopes to add to the country’s medal tally. “I’ll give it my best that’s what. But I won’t pressure myself because there are others who are seeded higher. Let them worry about the pressure. I’m here to give it my all.” –