DENIED a chance for back-to-back gold medals when organizers scratched BMX events from this year’s Southeast Asian Games, Daniel Caluag is determined to give the country something to cheer about this year as he focuses on the world events and the Olympics.
The Fil-American rider, the country's lone gold medalist in last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, is scheduled to compete in the 2015 Union Cycliste Internationale BMX World Championship as part of his bid to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The world meet is set July 21 to 25 in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.
“Do as best as I can,” said Caluag, after being handed the Athlete of the Year title in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards Night on Monday at 1Esplanade in Pasay City.
“If I make the finals, that will be fantastic. Me and my coach are devising a plan for the world championship. Then, we will work from there,” Caluag said.
“My plan is to ultimately go to World Cup events and gather as many points as I can to improve my rankings.”
Thirty-one spots are up for grabs in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Caluag can advance by piling up the UCI points from the world championship and World Cup events.
“The goal is to gather as many points as I can and improve my world rankings,” said Caluag.
Caluag will miss what could be a sure gold in the 2015 SEA Games as BMX will not be part of the calendar in Singapore.
“It’s unfortunate. But that’s the nature of the SEA Games,” Caluag said.
In his acceptance speech during the PSA Awards Night, Caluag encouraged all athletes in attendance to enjoy every moment of their athletic career.
“We recognize a lot of athletes in this room. I want to congratulate everyone. Being an athlete is no easy task… Make sure you cherish every season, every game, and every practice, because everything will soon be over before you realize it. That’s sports,” said Caluag.
Caluag arrived from Kentucky on Monday at 1 a.m. to personally receive the Athlete of the Year award. He left Manila the next morning.
“It was a great year being a new dad, graduating at nursing school, along with the Asian Games gold medal, and to top it off with the Athlete of the Year,” said Caluag, who was joined by relatives from Nueva Ecija in the awards night.