Cold war be­tween Kims in triathlon

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY JUN ENGRACIA

Go, Kim, Go! This cheer re­ver­ber­ated through­out the bike and run course of women’s triathlon in the 30th South­east Asian Games at Su­bic Freeport on Sun­day. But which Kim were the spec­ta­tors cheer­ing for? The Kim Man­grobang vs Kim Kil­groe cold war is the worst-kept se­cret in the triathlon com­mu­nity, and with both aim­ing for Olympic spots next year in Tokyo, the new phase of the cold war has just be­gun.

SU­BIC BAY FREEPORT—GO, Kim, Go!

This cheer re­ver­ber­ated through­out the bike and run course of the women’s triathlon in the 30th South­east Asian Games here on Sun­day. But which Kim were the spec­ta­tors cheer­ing for?

One is a stat­uesque com­mer­cial model who be­came the glamor girl of Philip­pine triathlon when she burst into the scene as an age-grouper in 2012. The other is the tiny but scrappy kid from La­guna who grew up fight­ing the odds to get to where she is now—on top of the podium.

To­gether, they gave the Philip­pines a 1-2 sweep of the women’s triathlon on the first full day of com­pe­ti­tion in the SEA Games on Sun­day.

But be­neath the eu­pho­ria of the Filipinos’ third straight 1-2 fin­ish in the SEA Games triathlon is a sim­mer­ing per­sonal ri­valry that has fu­eled each other’s drive. Un­der one flag, they are team­mates, but Kim Man­grobang and Kim Kil­groe are each other’s arch-ri­val. They will go at each other’s throat if given the chance.

The Kim vs Kim cold war is the worst-kept se­cret in the triathlon com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to coaches, of­fi­cials and sup­port­ers: They don’t show up in the same train­ing ses­sion and avoid each other like the plague.

This per­sonal com­pe­ti­tion be­came ev­i­dent mid­way through the women’s triathlon when Man­grobang tucked be­hind Kil­groe through most of the 40-kilo­me­ter bike leg, which proved to be cru­cial to her break­away in the 10-km run leg.

Sav­ing one’s legs on the sad­dle is the key to a good run–and a good race-in triathlon.

That’s ex­actly how things played out on Sun­day. Man­grobang was out of the wa­ter first, but Kil­groe was close be­hind. On the bike, Man­grobang stuck to Kil­groe’s draft in this draft-le­gal race, and with fresh legs off the bike, Man­grobang ran away with the gold. Kil­groe, hav­ing done all the work in the bike leg, had noth­ing left for the run to chal­lenge her team­mate.

Was this fair? Kil­groe didn’t say.

``I just ran my race ac­cord­ing to plan. I did the best I could and I ex­e­cuted my game plan well,’’ she said. In the post-race con­fer­ence, she re­fused to com­ment if Man­grobang ben­e­fit­ted from her ef­fort.

Man­grobang like­wise said she ran her race as planned— stay as close to her team­mate as pos­si­ble in the swim, draft be­hind her through­out the bike and pour it on in the run.

Was this fair? Man­grobang’s back­ers said that’s how races in the stan­dard-or Olympic-dis­tance go.

Both Kims are aim­ing for an Olympic berth. Man­grobang is ahead in the rank­ings, but Kil­groe is work­ing just as hard to get there. The race to the Olympics is the new phase of the cold war. INQ

Kim Kil­groe

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