Cold war between Kims in triathlon
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