Daniel Caluag all set to defend BMX Asiad title
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Two former Asian champions and a reigning Southeast Asian Games titlist pose as Daniel Caluag’s strongest potential rivals as he sets out to defend the Asian Games gold medal in men’s BMX of cycling on Saturday, August 25, at the Jakarta International BMX Track.
Caluag, now 31 and a registered nurse in the US, kept his aces close to his chest ahead of the 18th edition of the Games, opting to train on his own rather than compete in UCI races as he has done for his qualification for the London 2012 Olympics.
And although doubts have been cast as to his conditioning and preparedness to retain the crown – the only gold medal for the country in the Incheon 2014 Asiad – Caluag stressed he has prepared well and hard for Jakarta.
“It’s not a matter of watching out for my opponents. For me, it’s watching out about myself, how I will fare on race day,” said Caluag, 31, who will race alongside younger brother Christopher John.
“I’m sure they [rivals] know me and I, too, know about them. It’s ‘whoever shows up at the gate’ that a competitor in my event has to brace for – and that includes my brother,” he added.
The men’s race consists of 12 riders – including last year’s Asian champions Jukia Yoshimura (2017) and Yoshitaku Nagasako both of Japan and last year’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games winner Gusti Bagus Saputra of Indonesia.
The men’s seeding run is set at 9:25 am (10:25 am in Manila) right after the 9:05 am seeding run for women where the Philippines’ Sienna Elaine Fines, only 19, gets to be thrusted into her first major international competition after coming out of a UCI BMX juniors program at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.
Fines will face two formidable opponents, both from China – Zhang Yaru, the 2017-2018 Asian champion and Lu Yan, the silver medalist in Incheon.
But like Caluag, Fines feels everyone has a fighting chance for the gold in BMX racing where one spill would totally hurt a rider’s medal aspiration.
The Jakarta track is basically UCI regulation, putting the participants on a level playing field.
Caluag, who works at two California hospitals on a three-day-a-week schedule, said he is more conditioned to race now than he was for Incheon.
“I’m definitely more prepared now than Incheon,” said Caluag, noting he draws inspiration not only from the country but also from his wife Stephanie and daughters Sydney and Kailani. This is the first time he is competing away from home without his wife. – Rappler.com