Ranged against the crème dela crème in the 400-meter hurdles, Fil-Am entry Eric Cray has to run like the wind on Aug. 15 in the Rio Olympics.
The 27-year-old Cray, one of 42 speedsters in the field, boasts of a personal best of 48.98 seconds, a feat he achieved during a meet in Madrid in late June.
The two-time Southeast Asian Games champion, however, has to do better than that to survive initial screening.
While that clocking is quite impressive, Cray needs to push himself even more as the cast will include Javier Culson of Puerto Rico, Jack Green of the United Kingdom, Kerron Clement of the US, Michael Tinsley, also of the US and Cuban-born Yasmin Copello of Turkey.
Culson’s best time is 47.78, while Tinsley parades a 47.70 and Clement holds a 47.24.
Other topnotch times include those of Copello (48.46), Byron Robinson of the US (48.79), Roxroy Cato of Jamaica (48.72) and Annsert Whyte of Jamaica (48.58).
But with the help of Davian Clarke, the University of Texas-El Paso track coach, Cray feels that he will have his breakout performance in Rio less than two weeks from now.
The 400-m hurdles world record stands at 46.78 and it was registered by Kevin Young during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Cray, one of three track and field bets for the Philippines in Rio, made the Olympic grade as early as May last year during a race in the Cayman Islands.
The Olympic standard in the event is 49.40 seconds.