HUELGAS ASSERTS SUPERIORITY OVER SEA RIVALS
There’s little doubt that Nikko Huelgas won’t be able to retain his men’s triathlon title in the Southeast Asian Games.
Huelgas beat all his Southeast Asian rivals with still plenty of gas left in the tank during the recent ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships in Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang, Indonesia.
The head of the Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes Commission clocked two hours and 50 seconds during the swim-bike-run test of endurance and was already cooling down when Indonesians Jauhari Johan and Muhammad Ahlul Firman checked in.
Johan arrived in 2:05:35 and Firman in 2:05:57, more than five minutes clear of Huelgas, the defending men’s triathlon champion after his feat in the 2015 Singapore Games.
“We joined the race to know the capacity of Nikko’s opponents from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia,” said triathlon chief Tom Carrasco.
“Hopefully we could retain the double gold in the SEA Games and add two silvers for good measure,” added Carrasco.
In the women’s race, Kim Kilgroe also defeated her Southeast Asian opponents after coming home in 2:19:18, almost three minutes ahead of Malaysia’s Irene See Win Chong (2:22:06).
Carrasco said defending SEA Games women’s champion Claire Adorna wasn’t able to race after her coached deemed it better to rest her strained calf muscle.
Also joining Huelgas and Ador- na in the Kuala Lumpur Games are John Chicano and Kim Mangrobang, the 2015 silver medalist.
Huelgas came in 16th overall behind a slew of world-class triathletes from Japan, Hong Kong, Taipei, China and Korea led by Japanese gold-winner Jumpei Furuya, who completed the course covering 1.5 kilometers of swimming, 40km bike and 10km run.
The top six finishers were all Japanese with second-placer Makoto Odakura and Shiruba Taniguchi winding up just seconds behind Furuya to reach the podium.