INCHEON, South Korea—Avoiding world-ranking races in the past 16 months could work to Daniel Caluag’s advantage after all, as the Philippine delegation here focuses on BMX of cycling as the possible source of its first gold medal in the 17th Asian Games.
Caluag opted to complete his Nursing course in Kentucky—he is now a registered nurse in the US—since winning the Asian Championship gold medal in Indonesia in May 2013. School kept the Filipino-American veteran of the London Olympics out of the track, thus missing out on the International Cycling Union (UCI) September 2014 ranking.
But, who cares?
Only two of the eight riders in men’s BMX are on the UCI rankings—Indonesia’s Toni Syarifudin at No. 94 and Japan’s Masahiro Sampei at No. 144.
The rest—including Caluag’s brother Christopher, who finished with the silver behind Daniel in the Myanmar Sea Games last year—are not on the UCI rankings. They are China’s Zhao Zhiyang, South Korea’s Jegai Hyun and Kim Young, and China’s Zhu Yan.
In fact, Japan did not field world No. 19 Yoshitaku Nagasako and No. 47 Tatsumi Matsushita. Indonesia’s Gusti Bagus Saputra, who finished third behind the Caluag brothers in Myanmar, is also not around.
But Caluag is not taking his opponents lightly.
“I’ve played against them before in the Asian championships and they are all tough opponents,” Caluag told the BusinessMirror. It’s going to be tough and the Japanese, for sure, would give us a tough race.”
The Caluags and their coach, Greg Romero, inspected the track on Tuesday and were satisfied with the design.
“The track is pretty good and I am looking forward to racing tomorrow,” said Caluag, who was ranked in the low 1970s before he raced in London in 2012 and jumped 20 notches up for winning the Asian championship gold.
Members of the Philippine delegation, however, would have to endure the two-hour bus ride to the Ganghwa BMX Track, which is located far away from the Athletes’ Village.
The seeding run for the men will start at 11:30 a.m. (Korea time) and the motos at 1:10 p.m.