Kim Mangrobang eyes Olympic berth
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Her Portuguese coach watched helplessly as Kim Mangrobang stuffed herself with rice and pork sinigang, a diet hardly appropriate for an athlete aiming to make it to the Olympics.
It was two hours after Mangrobang captured her second straight gold medal in women’s triathlon in the Southeast Asian Games here and obviously thought she deserved the meal as her reward.
While making do with his salad for lunch and while his ward was busy with her food, Santos discussed Mangrobang’s quest for the Olympics and his plans for her.
Mangrobang, 26, has been doing triathlons since she was 12. After lingering in the shadows of her friend Monica Torres, one-time queen of Philippine triathlon, and Claire Adorna, the SEA Games gold medallist in 2015, she is now the highest ranked Filipino triathlete, male or female, in the International Triathlon Union, the sport’s world governing body.
She is currently ranked 104th in the world and No. 13 in Asia. She is also the closest among Filipinos to a qualifying slot in the Olympics. But for a bad race recently in South Korea, Mangrobang would have already been in the top 100 of the world rankings.
To qualify for the Olympics, she must improve her ranking and earn points in several qualifying events all over the world, and this includes continental cups in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. She will have until May next year to make it.
While not competing, Mangrobang trains in Santos’ training camp in Rio Maior, an hour’s drive north of Lisbon, Portugal.
Santos has coaching Mangrobang since 2014, when he was invited by Triathlon Association of the Philippines Tom Carrasco to look at the country’s national athlete. With the sponsorship of San Miguel Corp., Santos took Mangrobang under his wing in Portugal.
She needs to be very strong in the swim, which is her forte, said Santos. “She also needs special work on the bike,’’ he said.
“It gets lonely sometimes,’’ Mangrobang said of her life in Portugal, but she’s happy she has been getting great results from her training under Santos.