BMX champ Danny Caluag at the frontline

WHILE Danny Caluag was prepping for the London 2012 Olympics and winning gold medals at the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games, the BMX star had his head dug deep into his desire to earn a degree in Nursing.

Caluag, whose parents—Daniel Ramos and Isabelita Manabat hail from Malolos (Bulacan) and Licab (Nueva Ecija), respectively—juggled time for training and competition at the world, continental and regional stage. Imagine how difficult it was for the elite BMXer to do both at the same time in the US.

He earned his degree at Lindsey Wilson College in Lexington, Kentucky—simultaneously with his fellow world-class BMX rider, wife and personal coach Stephanie—in 2014, the same year he won the Philippines’s only gold medal at the Incheon Asian Games.

With the degree clinched, Caluag then focused on becoming a Registered Nurse. He did.

Caluag, 33, works at two hospitals, City of Hope and a local Urgent Care, and as a nurse, his services are badly needed during this new coronavirus pandemic that is hitting the US real hard.

“I work 12-hour shifts both for cancer research and for Urgent Care,” Caluag told the BusinessMirror over the weekend. “But being in Urgent Care, it is the frontline and you have to screen patient for any symptoms that walk through the door.”

At the City of Hope, which is a cancer research hospital, Caluag helps on all aspect from bone marrow transplant to surgical oncology.

But he is also a triage nurse that require emergency room duties.

Taking a break from hospital work during the pandemic carries all the risks, especially with Danny and Stephanie going home to two daughters—Sydney, five, and Kailani, three.

“In the US, testing has been limited. Fortunately at this moment, the area I live in has limited spread of the virus—two individuals turned out positive,” he said. “At the facilities I work at, I protect my health and family with the current recommendation of the CDC [Center for Disease Control].”

“Unfortunately not everyone is able to undergo a test to get an accurate number of positives or negatives,” he added.

And while the pandemic persists, Caluag’s hopes for a second Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020 had to take a sidestep.

“With my schedule, I got my training in my family and work life. Sometimes before work I will go to the gym or sprint work, on days off I go to the track and do skill work,” said Caluag, whose brother CJ also is with the Philippine BMX team.

“At the moment, the Asian Championships were postponed. The Worlds which is the Olympic qualifier is still on at the moment but with this pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “A lot of people are scared and worried, all we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

The Olympic qualifiers—Asian championships in Jakarta in April and BMX world championships in Houston in May—have been postponed, putting at risk Caluag, and that of MTB rider Ariana Dormitorio’s campaign.

But according to PhilCycling Vice President Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, both riders still have the chance of qualifying for the Olympics—if the Games are not postponed.

“If they are to base qualifying on nation’s ranking, Danny [the Philippines] is fourth behind Japan, Indonesia and China. But he is No. 2 in the individual ranking,” Rodriguez explained to BusinessMirror. “The host country [Japan] has an automatic slot so the next two [nations] will make it.”

“If by any unforeseen reason they cannot make it, then the next country will qualify,” he said. “We were invited to the Olympics test event in Tokyo  last year.”

As for Dormitorio in women’s cross country, Rodriguez said: “Ariana also has a good chance because she [Philippines] is third in nation’s ranking behind Japan and Iran. Considering Japan has an automatic slot then the next two countries qualify.”

Only four Filipinos have so far qualified for Tokyo 2020—world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.

Caluag stressed he is ready for any eventuality.

“I focus on what I can control and I have no control if the worlds gets canceled or postponed,” he said. “But one thing I can do is to be ready for battle and ready to race.”

“Times are scary, focus on what you can control and believe in the process. Everyone stay safe and stay home,” he added.