Eric Cray is expected to rule the men’s 400-meter hurdles of the 30th Southeast Asian Games athletics meet.
The 31-year-old Fil-American sprinter has gone up in ranking since June, and after seeing action in the Hong Kong Summer Invitational.
His time of 50.34 seconds, according to the latest Southeast Asian rankings, makes him the top ranked athlete in the region.
And he will be in close competition with Malaysian Munusamy Ramachandran and Vietnamese sprinter Cong Lich Quach when action begins on Dec. 6 at the New Clark City athletics stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
Cray’s performance allowed him to improve on his 51.13 seconds showing that placed him seventh in the Asian Championships.
Ramachandran ranks second in Southeast Asia after submitting a time of 50.57 seconds during a meet in India last March.
Quach, a silver medalist in the Games two years ago, is currently in third at 50.71 seconds, a time he submitted in a Ho Chi Minh City competition last September.
With their times are very close, Philippine Athletics Track and Field chief Philip Ella Juico feel that Cray could clinch it.
“Sa hurdles, technique counts a lot. Puede may ma-injury, may madidisgrasya at may tsamba itong is Eric Cray,” said Juico.
While training and competing in the United States, Cray had a clocking of 51.23 seconds in Chula Vista, California, and 50.6 seconds in San Diego.
Cray may be able to win the silver medal in the men’s 100 meters behind Khairul Hafiz Jantan of Malaysia.
But his time of 10.56 seconds that he clocked in a Doha meet last April Doha puts him at no. 16th in the region with five others.
Jantan, who has a seed time of 10.5 seconds with Indonesia’s Had Sudirman, is ranked 11th.
The gold medal could go to Lalu Muhammad Zohri, a 19-year old sprinter from Indonesia if he is fielded in.
Zohri is considered as the fastest at 10.03 seconds this season, while Jeerapong Minapra of Thai is in contention for the silver because of his 10.34 second performance.
As a consolation, Cray and his crew in the men’s 4x100-meter relay team could retain the bronze they got in 2017.
Members of Team Pilipinas, also composed of Francis Medina, Anfernee Lopena and Clinton Bautista , ranked ahead of Thailand and Indonesia.
That’s after they had a time of 39.57 seconds during a Doha event also last April.
Thailand, with Minapra included, a favored to take the gold.