3 Kims and Rambo
SUBIC BAY—Being the host country has its privileges, and that includes the honor of winning the first medals in the Games.
The hosts are poised to win the first gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games when the powerhouse Philippine team tries to reassert its dominance in triathlon at the Boardwalk here on Sunday.
Three Kims—defending champion Kim Mangrobang, Asian Games campaigner Kim Kilgroe in the women’s division and Cebuano rookie Kim Remolino in the men’s class—will join two-time SEA Games silver medalist John ”Rambo” Chicano in a bid to duplicate the 1-2 sweeps of both the men’s and women’s divisions in the 2017 Games.
The gathering storm that threatens the biennial meet may well work in favor of the Filipinos’ bid to make a big splash as the Games swing into action in earnest. With Typhoon ”Tisoy” bearing down on mainland Luzon, organizers decided to hold duathlon, the other multi-sport event—also on Sunday.
Organizers and team representatives decided yesterday to advance the duathlon event from its original schedule on Wednesday because of the impending typhoon. That gives the heavily favored Filipinos a big opportunity to sweep all four individual multi-sport events—four golds and four silvers all on opening day—and kick off to a big start in a bid for the overall medal title.
A big number of gold medals will be up for grabs in Day 1, with the dancesport team in the hunt to win 14.
Individual triathlon will start as scheduled—6 a.m. for the men and 8 a.m. for the women. The duathlon event will now be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday and the triathlon mixed relay will be at 8 a.m. on Monday. The duathlon relay will be moved to Thursday.
‘‘We needed to do this to make sure the events are completed before bad weather kicks in,’’ said Tom Carrasco, president of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines. Typhoon Tisoy has been forecast to hit the eastern part of Luzon in the next few days.
Sunday’s swim-bike-run kicks off with a 1,500-kilometer swim off the Boardwalk of Subic Bay, acknowledged as the country’s capital of triathlon, the fastest growing sport in the country. The 40-km bike portion covers a flat three-loop 40-km course and the Olympic-distance event will be capped by 10-km four-loop run through the Boardwalk.
Carrasco described the course as technical because of the number of U-turns, but it is described as ”superfast but spectator-friendly’’ by Kevin Eijansantos, one of the team’s coaches.
Defending champion Mangrobang, who has been training and racing in Portugal in a bid to earn points for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is a formidable favorite to repeat as champion in the women’s division and Kilgroe is a strong backup in the bid to make it a 1-2 sweep for the third time in a row.
Mangrobang was second to Claire Adorna in 2015, but their places were reversed in 2017. This time, Adorna will be seeking the gold in the mixed team relay.
The men’s triathlon is also expected to be a two-man race for the gold between the veteran Chicano, the silver medalist in 2015 and 2017, and the upstart Remolino, the 19-year old from Talisay, Cebu, who topped the points standings in the qualifying races for the event. Remolino is a tough competitor in the draft-legal event, but his drafting advantage over Chicano is negated by the limited number of participants in the field.
Nikko Huelgas, champion in the past two Games, was hobbled by injuries and poor form during the qualifying races this year and lost his spot in the individual field. He will have to settle for the right to anchor the Filipinos in the mixed relay event, which involves two women and two men doing sprints of 300-meter swim, 13-km bike and 2.5-km run.
The mixed relay, which will be held at 8 a.m. on Monday, will include Mangrobang, Adorna, Huelgas and Fernando Casares, the 22-year Spanish-Filipino from Madrid who was touted to be a gold medal prospect in the individual event had he earned enough points to qualify.
Although Eijansantos considers the duathlon competition as a free-for-all, the Filipino duathletes are also fancied, though not as heavily favored as their triathlon counterparts.
The veteran Monica Torres, once the queen of Philippine triathlon, has switched to duathlon and will anchor the Filipino women’s bid for a sweep. Backing her up in the run-bike-run event is the youngster Jelsie Sabado.
The men’s individual team is made up of Doy Comendador and Jerwyn Banatao.
Making up the duathlon mixed relay team are Comendador, Banatao, Efraim Inigo, Torres, Sabado and Pawie Fornea.
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