Officials bewail ‘setup’ to dethrone Cray

Gerry Carpio - The Philippine Star
Officials bewail �setup� to dethrone Cray

Malaysian Khairul Hafiz Jantan sneaks past the Philippines’ Eric Cray at the finish in the 100-meter final. JUN MENDOZA

KUALA LUMPUR – Fil-American Eric Shaun Cray did not have a Chinaman’s chance to win the gold medal in the most prestigious event of the SEA Games – the century dash – as he had to run it barely one hour and half after the completion of the 400m hurdles where he was too exhausted to get enough rest and composure to run competitively.

There were efforts to put him back into shape or near peak condition to defend his title in the 100 meters and all he needed was a massage to loosen up the muscles strained in the 400m hurdles.

Athletics chief Philip Ella Juico said the race officials turned down the request of the Philippine coach because they said he would be disqualified if they did that.

Filipino sports officials said there was no way the Malaysians could give Cray a chance to extend his reign as King of the Tracks.

Malaysia was waiting for this all-important moment. They even gave Cray a tight schedule for the 400m hurdles and 100m run to deny him another reign as King of the Tracks.

Malaysian fans had already come in droves and occupied the stands to the rafters with a host of important government officials in the VIP box, led by Malaysian Minister Najib Razak, Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin and the Sultan of Selangor, and they wouldn’t like to disappoint.

With an aching hip and his leg muscles starting to strain, Cray fought it out with 19-year-old Khairul John Tan of Malaysia from the starting block until the last 20 meters when Tan made one last finishing kick to edge out the struggling Cray who almost fell to the ground trying to avoid a collision with the Malaysian champion at the finish.

Tan won the 100 meters in 10.38 seconds and Cray took the silver in 10.43.

The Malaysian crowd in the 80,000 seat stadium gave Southeast Asian’s new King of the Sprints a standing ovation and the new champion himself ran to the VIP box to celebrate the epic victory with the country’s top dignitaries the Prime Minister and the Sultan of Selangor.

Juico said that after talks with the Malaysian organizers for the rescheduling of Cray’s event didn’t go through, he already expected a loss by Cray in the 100 meters.

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