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PATAFA eyes 4 Rio slots

Athletics might end up sending four bets to the Rio Olympics, the association’s chief said yesterday.

Philip Juico said Fil-Am hurdler Eric Cray, the first qualifier to the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest in Brazil, is right on track in his buildup after a runnerup finish in the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki, Japan, over the weekend.

Cray didn’t only finish second but he erased his own Philippine record of 49.12 seconds by clocking 49.07 in the 400.

Japanese Keisuke Nazawa won with a time of 48.67, while third went to another Japanese, Yuki Masushita, who posted 49.26.

In the same event last year, the Olongapo-born Cray ran 50.06.

This weekend, Cray will return to the site of his Olympic qualifying time when he competes in the Cayman Islands Invitational in Georgetown where the Texas-bred speedster did 49.40 a year ago.

But Cray will campaign in the century dash in the hopes of improving his personal best of 10.25, numbers that he submitted during his gold medal winning performance in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Cray and long jumper Marestella Torres are the qualifiers so far for track and field as Torres earned her place owing to the principle of Universality, according to Juico.

Waiting on the wings are six-foot one pole vaulter EJ Obiena and US-based sprinter Kayla Richardson, who is aiming to clock the Olympic standard of 23.20 in the coming days with stints in numerous California races.

“Having four athletes taking part in Rio in 2016 will certainly give the Athletics sport a big boost and encourage all stakeholders, especially the corporate sector, to support the centerpiece sport of the Olympics,” said Juico.