Eric Cray shrugged off an embarrassing error involving the Filipino flag on Wednesday as he clinched his second SEA Games gold in two days in the men’s 400m hurdles.
The US-based runner was sporting an upside-down Filipino flag on his vest, which officially means the country is at war, when he won the 100m in 10.25sec on Tuesday.
But a day later Cray, 26, got both his flag and his performance right as he clocked a Games record of 49.40 to win the hurdles from Quach Cong Lich of Vietnam.
Cray wasn’t the only Filipino to wear an upside-down flag on Tuesday, with 100m women’s winner Kayla Richardson also caught out. It is unclear who was responsible for the error.
But Cray said the inverted flags were hurriedly covered up or re-stamped, and he apologised to his fellow countrymen for the mistake at the tournament in Singapore.
“We don’t make the jerseys so there was nothing we can do about it, but just tell our fellow Filipinos and Filipinas that we are sorry that we didn’t recognise it beforehand and it won’t happen again,” he said.
“We have fixed them since then, either cover them up or stamp a new flag on it. This was actually fixed correctly.”
Cray added: “We just got them (the running vests) the day we got here so there was no time for inspection of them. We are just so excited to be here we forgot about inspecting them.”
Cray, 26, began representing the Philippines in 2011 and he has already qualified for next year’s Olympics in the 400m hurdles after running a personal best of 49.12 last month.
“I feel great, good time, second-fastest time of my life,” he said after Wednesday’s race, setting his sights on the August world championships in Beijing.
“I just want to progress over here and go to world champs and hopefully make the final and hopefully bring a medal home.”
Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Huyen won the women’s 400m hurdles, also in a Games record time of 56.15.
Agus Prayogo of Indonesia won the men’s 10,000m in 29:41.56,ahead of Thailand’s Boonthung Srisung. – Agence France-Presse