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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Silver medal starts Coo’s Olympic attempt

Patrick Coo (photo above, right) finishes in between two participants from the host country for a silver medal. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Patrick Coo (photo above, right) finishes in between two participants from the host country for a silver medal. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

BMX cycling ace Patrick Coo is expecting a super steep climb with countless bumps and humps on the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The odds-on pick to represent the nation at the Olympics took the first bold step in his journey toward the French capital with a silver-medal finish in the BMX Racing Cup 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“A silver to end my trip in Indonesia. First Olympic points in elite acquired,’’ said Coo after clocking 34.138 seconds in a daring second place finish at the opening round of the racing cup.

“It was very, very close to the gold, but it’s racing,’’ added the Filipino-American. “You know what it is.’’

The 21-year-old from Bellflower, California, has four available routes on the way to Paris, including climbing the Olympic rankings by participating in several more races to gain UCI points before the qualification period ends on June 2, 2024.

But Coo can negotiate a quicker path at the 2023 Asian BMX Championships, which Tagaytay City will host on July 16 through Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino, the country’s cycling chief.

There’s also another way via the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September.

“I’m always proud to represent the Philippines in any competition. I’m giving it another shot,’’ said Coo, who missed out on a spot in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The former Asian junior champion finished 42nd in a field of 62 riders in Stage 3 of the World Cup in Bogota, Colombia, back in 2021, a race that offered spots to the Tokyo Summer Games.

More opportunities

He eventually wound up 45th after four stages and didn’t make the grade in the last-chance races.

“It was my first World Cup and my participation was a last-minute thing. We gave it our all and tried to live up to the expectations,’’ said Coo.

Two more opportunities will open up for Coo to grab a ticket to Paris through the 2023 UCI BMX World Championships on Aug. 3 to 13 in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 2024 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina, United States.

Indonesia’s Gusti Bagus Saputra ruled the Jakarta race on Sunday in 33.919 seconds while the veteran Rio Akbar, also of the host country, timed 34.346 seconds to settle for the bronze.

“Job well done Patrick for fighting till the end for our flag and country. I’m happy with your new attitude and perspective in life. Thank you Philcycling for all the support to make this trip happen,’’ said coach Frederick Farr.

Eleven riders raced in the final with Indonesia qualifying five more riders, South Korea with two and Thailand with one.

Next stop for Coo is the second round of the BMX Cup in Thailand on March 19.

Also making a bid for Paris aside from Coo is Rio de Janeiro Olympian Daniel Caluag. INQ

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