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Silver lining

Largely overlooked after falling short of the gold two years ago, triathlete Kim Mangrobang takes the fast lane this time as she tries to make a definitive statement in the coming SEA Games
/ 05:05 AM August 06, 2017

When the Philippines dominated the Southeast Asian Games triathlon two years ago, Marion Kim Mangrobang was largely relegated to the background. Her silver medal—behind a strong 1-2 Filipino windup in the women’s division—was hardly noticed amid the glitter of the golden finishes of Ma. Claire Adorna and her male counterpart Nikko Huelgas.

But Mangrobang didn’t mind. Not a bit. Instead, the 25-year-old lass from Santa Rosa City in Laguna used the experience as a motivation to train even harder.

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“Claire and I have prepared really hard for the SEA Games and I know that both of us will do our best to win the gold anew for the Philippines,” says Mangrobang via Facebook Messenger from Rio Maiaor, Portugal, where she now trains ahead of the biennial competition in Kuala Lumpur.

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Mangrobang has improved by leaps and bounds ever since the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, winning the gold in the 2016 Asian Triathlon Cup in Subic, the 18-kilometer event in the Do Vidreiro Marinha Grande in Portugal and the Badajos Half-Marathon, also in Portugal.

Early this year, Mangrobang ruled the Grande Premio de Benedita cycling competition and the Alhandra Sprint Triathlon, both in Portugal. She also finished 15th in the Altafulla European Triathlon in Spain and fifth in the recent Subic International Triathlon. That’s apart from her podium finishes in the Lisbon Half-Marathon, as well as the Pataias and Evora cycling meets.

“There’s nothing I want more than to win the gold in the SEA Games and eventually work very hard to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” Mangrobang says.

And she’s undoubtedly taking the fast lane to achieve her goals.

Last June, she bagged the bronze in the prestigious Dakhla Sprint Triathlon Africa Cup in Morocco, a feat that enabled her to rise 48 spots to 154th in the world rankings of the International Triathlon Union.

Now ranked No. 1 among the country’s female triathletes, Kim Mangrobang has chalked up a series of podium finishes in recent international races.

“My coach (Portuguese mentor Sergio Santos) and I have a system, so whether it’s a big or small tournament, the preparation is the same,” says Mangrobang. “We prepare for the distance, course and the field.”

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For long periods of the year, she’s based at the Desmor High Performance Camp in Portugal but will come home on Aug. 12, days before jetting off for the Malaysian capital for the 29th SEA Games, slated Aug. 18 to 31.

A fashion design undergraduate at the School of Arts and Fashion in Makati, Mangrobang enjoys the support of sponsors San Miguel Corp., Nike Philippines and Pinarello Cycles. She started out as a swimmer for Dominican School in Sta. Rosa City, competing with distinction at the age of nine under the banner of the Laguna Mako Sharks Swim Team.

There she caught the attention of former national triathlon champion Abet Alon-Alon, who told her parents that she has a great future in triathlon because “she can also run fast.”

“My first triathlon was a kids’ race called ‘Fit N Tri’ where I finished second to last,” recalls Mangrobang, who manages to keep track of her friends in the country through social media. She has come a long way.

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Because of her great progress in the past several months, she now ranks No. 1 among female triathletes by the Triathlon Association of the Philippines. With exceptional focus and dedication to her goals as a top triathlete, she has pipped Adorna in the national seedings.

And after languishing in the shadows for some time, Mangrobang is now ready to go for the gold.

TAGS: Marion Kim Mangrobang, SEA Games

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