Asiad gold medalist Caluag to get more rewards, recognition

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Rewards and recognition keep on pouring for Filipino-American BMX rider Daniel Patrick Caluag, who won the country’s one and only gold medal in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

On the day he received his P1-million cash incentive from the Philippine Sports Commission, Caluag learned on Friday, Oct. 3, that he also got bonuses of P500,000 and P100,000 from the MVP Sports Foundation and cargo forwarding firm LBC, respectively. Both are cycling supporters.

In a well-attended press conference held at the PSC canteen inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, cycling association president Rep. Abraham Tolentino announced the foundation texted him about the additional prize while LBC representative Moe Chulani personally handed over the company’s check.

Also present at the occasion was his younger brother Christopher John, who placed fourth in the Asian Games BMX competitions, and Caluag’s personal coach and fellow Fil-Am Gregory Romero.

PSC commissioners Jolly Gomez and Salvador Andrada gave the P1-million check to the athlete, who barely had sleep after arriving from South Korea just before midnight last Thursday.

“It is such an honor to represent the Philippines and this country carries so much punch to show the world what Filipinos can achieve,” said Caluag.

The cylcist squeezed in time from his work as a nurse at the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky to prepare for his Asian Games challenge.

“I’m used to multi-tasking,” he said.

Caluag did 12-hour shifts thrice a week at the hospital and left for Incheon two days after his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Isabelle, named after her Pinay mom Isabellita from Bulacan.

Andrada, who oversees cycling for the government sports agency, disclosed that for a gold in Incheon “Caluag will remain as a PSC priority athlete but his contract will now be extended until the 2018 Asiad.”

The reigning Asian BMX kingpin, who ranked No. 1 in the grueling US professional BMX circuit in 2007, was inducted to the PSC’s priority athletes program for also winning the BMX gold in last year’s Myanmar Southeast Asian Games where his sibling Christopher bagged the bronze.

Caluag will continue to receive a P40,000 monthly stipend from the PSC plus additional financial support for his training for international competitions, including a possible shot of representing the country in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Olympic dream

Assuming he qualifies, it would mark his second Olympic stint after debuting in the 2012 London Olympiad where he was the only Asian in the discipline’s second outing in the world sports showcase.

Romero, 40, himself an ex-professional BMX cyclist before turning to coaching full-time, said he and Caluag would map out a plan once they return to the US on how the rider could qualify for the Rio Olympics given his ward’s tight schedule.

“We may participate in 4 to 5 UCI-sanctioned BMX competitions annually in the next two years to earn UCI points so Daniel can qualify for Rio,” Romero said.

“It (the Rio Olympics) is something that I visualize every day. Anything is possible if you set a goal,” said Caluag shortly before leaving for Malacanang where he was to be feted by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on behalf of an indisposed President Benigno Aquino III.

“Next time we award Daniel an incentive, it will be for P5 million,” said a bullish Andrada, referring to the cash incentive given an Olympic gold medalist, at the close of the turnover rites.

After giving the country its first Asian Games cycling gold medal – who knows? – Caluag might just up the ante by accomplishing what no Filipino athlete has ever done before in the Rio Games two years from now.

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