Caluag unsure about second Olympic stint

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Fil-Am Danny Caluag said yesterday he continues to train for an Olympic slot in BMX racing but with no certainty of when the two World Cup weekend qualifiers will be held and the pressures of his job as a registered nurse frontliner in California, the door seems to be slowly closing on the road to Tokyo.

There will be 24 BMX racers in the Olympics and so far, only host Japan is assured of a ticket. The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Olympic and individual rankings and the results of two proposed World Cup weekend qualifiers will determine the other competitors. The BMX World Championships should’ve been held in Houston last year to qualify more riders to Tokyo but were cancelled. The top three in the Asian rankings will be awarded slots and No. 5 Caluag, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, is barely out of the circle. Since Japan is guaranteed a ticket, Caluag has moved up to No. 4 but is still a rung short of a nod.

POC and Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines president Rep. Bambol Tolentino is hoping for mountain biker Ariana Dormitorio and Caluag to make it to Tokyo. “Danny should compete to gain more points,” said Tolentino. But with no competitions on the table, Caluag will fall short of the minimum requirement in rankings.

“I would love to qualify for the Olympics but no new qualification race is in place due to COVID,” said the 34-year-old Caluag, a 2013 SEA Games and 2014 Asian Games gold medalist. “The route I was going through was the 2020 World Championships. I would’ve had some homecourt advantage in the US. Also, the track played to my strengths. With the cancellation, there’s no chance of qualifying through that route. I can try and qualify through the individual ranking with the possibility of two World Cup qualifiers that may happen but no announcements as of yet. If the World Cup qualifiers don’t push through, it will return back to the ranking of the countries.”

If the two World Cup qualifiers are held, Caluag said he’s definitely joining. “The qualifiers could happen in late March and April but they would have to be announced in the next coming weeks,” he said. “With the restrictions of traveling to the US, it would be hard for riders to come to the US which UCI is taking into consideration for a World Cup event. You have to be fair that all countries are allowed to compete. It may not be feasible for riders to quarantine for two weeks or more with travel back and forth in our sport.”

Caluag said his work as a frontliner is a challenge, too. He is employed at Urgent Care Center in Victorville and helps out in the emergency room in Ontario. “I’m training but it’s hard to manage, knowing how bad it is in the US,” said Caluag who has received two doses of the COVID vaccine. “I’m optimistic but I try to be realistic to make an informed decision on how I can execute during this pandemic. I’m doing great but it’s difficult when you get into situations where people are staring at death’s door and asking for help.”

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