Misfortunes struck Daniel Caluag and Patrick Coo as Thailand and Japan took the elite category gold medals and, more importantly, berths to the Paris 2024 Olympics at the close of the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) BMX Championships at the Tagaytay City BMX Park on Sunday, July 16.
Caluag, the Philippines’ sole gold medalist at the Incheon 2014 Asian Games, lost some two seconds when his front wheel got stuck momentarily at the starting gate in the semifinals of the men’s elite race.
The London 2012 Olympian managed to get his desired speed and rhythm at the table top but couldn’t get into the final of the championships calendared by both the International Cycling Union (UCI) and Asian Cycling Confederation and hosted by the PhilCycling and Tagaytay City led by Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
“Breaks of the game,” said Caluag, 36, who has never ceased to train in the US while juggling his profession as a Registered Nurse—he’s completing his Nursing Administration Masters—and dad to his two daughters and husband to former BMX racer Stephanie, who’s also a nurse in the US.
Coo, a former Asian junior champion, made the final and was in contention to break up front until he was caught in a tight bind also on the table top.
He was unable to squeeze into the front in the process lost his left foot on the pedal and was left behind by the eight-rider final to finish last behind gold medalist Komet Sukpraser.
Sukpraser and women’s elite winner Hatakeyama of Japan earned automatic qualification to the Paris Olympics from the championships witnesses by ACC secretary -general Onkar Singh of India and UCI management committee member Datuk Amarjit Singh of Maalaysia.
Tagaytay City’s hosting of the championships earned praises from both UCI and ACC officials that inspired Tolentino to seek hosting major international competitions in the future.
“It was near perfect,” said Tolentino of the championships. “Near because we missed out on outright qualification for Paris. Breaks indeed.”
Indonesia’s Rio Akbar and Fasya Ahsana Rifki completed the men’s elite podium, while Wanyl Liao of China and Kanami Tanno of Japan finished second and third, respectively, in the women’s elite race.
Also winning on Sunday were Indonesia’s Shifa Maulidina Qotron Nada (women) and Japan’s Hyoga Kiuchi (men) in the junior race and Japan’s Neneka Nishimura (women) and Adiya Fajar Putu Soekarno (men) in the under-23 category.