Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SPORTS - By June Navarro @ju­navINQ

Nikko Huelgas of Team Go For Gold Philip­pines doesn’t want to play it safe when the cham­pion triath­lete be­gins his buildup for the South­east Asian Games in Manila next year.

The reign­ing two-time SEA Games gold medal­ist got his prepa­ra­tion for a third straight gold medal go­ing af­ter re­cently win­ning in the 2018 Na­tional Age Group Triathlon in Naga, Cebu.

Huelgas com­pleted the 1.5kilo­me­ter swim, 40k bike and 10k run in two hours, two min­utes and four sec­onds to rule the men’s elite divi­sion and beat Go For Gold team­mate An­drew Kim Re­molino and Jorry Ycong of Rider Omega Tri team by three min­utes.

“I re­ally had a bad sea­son and so far this was the best per- for­mance that I had com­pared to my pre­vi­ous races,” said Huelgas.

“All coun­tries are im­prov­ing and I just hope I don’t suf­fer any in­juries go­ing into the SEA Games,” added Huelgas.

As part of his prepa­ra­tion, Huelgas is in for a more pun­ish­ing race next year in the Iron­man 70.3 in Viet­nam in May, some­thing that can toughen up the Ath­letes Com­mis­sion head prior to de­fend­ing his SEAG ti­tle.

“It’s much tougher than the Olympic dis­tance. It could af­fect my per­for­mance, but I see the half-iron­man as a big­ger chal­lenge that could help me grow as a triath­lete,” said Huelgas.

He will de­fend his ti­tle be­fore a highly sup­port­ive Filipino crowd in Su­bic dur­ing the 30th SEA Games to be hosted by the Philip­pines from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

“I will not be com­pla­cent be­cause I don’t want to dis­ap­point our coun­try­men,” said Huelgas.

In the women’s stan­dard dis­tance race, Ma. Claire Adorna lived up to her billing as the coun­try’s top bet af­ter fin­ish­ing the course in 2:29:31.

Adorna was the SEAG women’s cham­pion in 2015 Sin­ga­pore.

Nikko Huelgas

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