Rio loss won’t stop Eric Cray from chasing Olympic medal

While runner Eric Cray is looking forward to the future, including the next SEA Games, Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, long jumper Marestella Torres Sunang is not sure about what’s next for her.

Cray did not make it to the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles on Tuesday evening at the Nilton Santos Stadium but retreated to the Athletes Village positive about training harder and doing better next time.

“I just got to get ready for the next race, keep training and get ready for the next season to come. Tokyo 2020 is going to be even better,” said Cray, who clocked 49.37 seconds in his semi-final heat and could not make it to the 12-man finals on Thursday.

Cray is flying home to El Paso, Texas on Friday. He said he will get some rest and then plan ahead. Already at the top of his list of plans is the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia.

“Oh, the SEA Games,” he said. “Definitely I want to break my 100 meter record. I want to break my 400 meter record. I want to break the record in the four by four. I want the gold in the four by one. I have four events and it’s just the stepping stone for the Asian Games in 2018.”

“After that I want to get ready for 2020. I still got it in my heart and mind that I’m going to go to 2020. The past two years was like the beginning for me. I’ll be ready for 2020 and I’m going to do great,” said Cray.

The 27-year-old said being in his first Olympics is such an opportunity, and that he’d been in constant touch with his Filipina mother, who’s also based in Texas, during his Olympic run, and was sure that his family was cheering for him thousands of miles away.

“I’m just grateful for everybody,” he said.

“Being in the Olympics is the biggest thing for a track and field athlete. It’s still the number one sporting event in the world and it’s just every four years so when it comes around you got to go,” Cray added.

Sunang, on the other hand, left the stadium cursing herself for being careless during the warm-up, when she ran a full approach without having the sand cleared by race officials.

Because a fellow runner made a jump before her, there was a break in the sand.

“Na-shoot yung paa ko sa butas sa sand. Malalim yung butas at na-eksakto dun ang talon ko,” said Sunang, adding that during her fall she felt a sharp pain on her hip.

“Naramdaman ko agad. Kaya sa first jump ko pa lang, alam kong masakit. Gumuguhit hanggang sa lower back ko yung sakit,” she said.

As a result, she could only jump 6.22m on her first jump when in practice here she was already averaging 6.46m to 6.50m. A jump of 6.53m or higher could have carried her to Wednesday’s finals. In her second and third jumps she did 6.10m and 6.15m.

Sunang, who recorded her best jump of 6.72m at the Kazakhstan Open only last June, is in her last Olympics. She’s already 35, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are out of her reach.

She said she can still vie in the 2017 SEA Games or the 2018 Asian Games but is quite unsure of her next tournament.

“Naiinis ako sa nangyari. Naging careless ako, Parang nakita ko na yung butas sa sand, tinuloy ko pa din ang jump. Hindi ko inisip na baka ma-shoot ako sa butas. Hindi na nga nag-qualify, na-injure pa,” said the three-time Olympian.

Her coach, Joebert Delicano, said they will have to check the extent of the injury first thing in the morning Wednesday.

“Kailangan matingnan agad,” said Delicano, adding that Sunang is scheduled to compete in the Asian Beach Games in Vietnam next month.

“Baka hindi na ako sumali,” said Sunang.