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Cray bags gold in Asian tilt

by Jonas Terrado

Fil-American Eric Cray ended the country’s long dryspell in the Asian Athletics Championships after topping the men’s 400-hurdles in the event held Saturday night at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India.

ERIC Cray (left) edges Chinese-Taipei’s Chen Chieh in the men’s 400m hurdles final of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. (AFP)

ERIC Cray (left) edges Chinese-Taipei’s Chen Chieh in the men’s 400m hurdles final of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. (AFP)

Running in lane four, Cray won his specialty event after crossing the finish at 49.57 seconds, edging Taiwan’s Chen Chieh by .18 seconds. India’s Jabir MP was .63 seconds behind Cray to place third.

Cray nonchalantly mimicked Usain Bolt’s trademark celebration after he became the first Filipino since long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang to win gold in the biennial competition.

Torres-Sunang took the women’s long jump gold in the 2009 meet held in Guangzhou, China.

With his victory, the 28-year-old Cray also ended numerous droughts by the Philippines in the prestigious event.

Cray is the first Filipino to win a track event since Lydia de Vega’s 100 and 200-meter conquest in the 1987 edition held in Singapore, the first male to win a track event since Isidro del Prado claimed the 400-meter gold in Jakarta in 1985.

The Olongapo-born Cray is also the first 400-meter winner since Abdulkadir Guiapar’s 52.2-second performance in the inaugural staging of the Asian tilt held in Marikina in 1973.

His victory came with over a month before he heads to Kuala Lumpur to defend his 400-meter hurdles gold he ruled in the 2013 and 2015 Games in Naypwidaw and Singapore, respectively.

He is also set to defend the gold in the 100-meter dash which he won it two years ago in Singapore at 10.25 seconds.

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