THE PHILIPPINE Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) has high hopes two more Filipinos would follow the footsteps of world pole vault No.3 EJ Obiena and qualify in next year’s Paris Olympics.

“We’re hoping at least three qualified entries already, not just via universality slot,” said PATAFA Secretary-General and Executive Director Edward Kho.

Mr. Kho was referring to hurdler Eric Cray, who is seeking to make it to the Olympics one final time, and long jumper Janry Ubas, a Southeast Asian Games gold winner who has secured an invite to see action in Europe for a chance to earn his Paris Games berth.

“Eric Cray is really gunning his second Olympics and pouring everything that he has left in him para mag-qualify in most likely his last Olympics,” Mr. Kho yesterday told The STAR.

For Mr. Cray, who owns a total of eight SEA Games golds, to make the Olympic cut, he needs to breach the 48.70-second standard in the 400m hurdles during the one-year qualifying window that started last Saturday.

“He’s 49.53 now and he’s inching closer to the Olympic standard,” said Mr. Kho of Mr. Cray’s time.

Mr. Ubas, for his part, would have two pathways to the quadrennial event — one is clear the standard at 8.27m or gain ranking points and climb the ladder by competing in sanctioned meets.

And that is why Mr. Ubas has lined up several competitions in Europe, potentially in Italy, Germany or Finland late this month as well as the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Janry (Ubas) is making big strides. And he is now being noticed that’s why he got the invitation to compete in Europe. We’re just hoping he gets his visa from the Italian embassy in time,” said Mr. Kho. — Joey Villar