SEA Games 2023: PH looks to break ice with aquathlon, extend triathlon reign
Superior in the previous versions of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Filipino triathletes intend to push their luck in aquathlon where the first pair of gold medals for Team Philippines could come from in the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia.
But bringing that golden streak to the aquathlon sprints (500-meter swim and 2.5-kilometer run) and even in duathlon (5-km run, 20-km bike and 2.5-km run) will run through a host nation determined to reel in medals.
“We got info that Cambodia has naturalized French swimmers. Unconfirmed though as they have not released the start list,’’ said Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco. “I heard one female swimmer and one male duathlete.’’
Raven Alcoseba and Heart Quiambao have the opportunity to seize the first gold medal for the country on May 6, a day after the opening ceremony, in the women’s aquathlon individual sprint shortly before two-time SEA Games triathlon silver medalist Kim Remolino and Josh Ramos race in the men’s side.
Team Philippines has maintained a monopoly of bringing home the golds in both men’s and women’s triathlon since the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, a winning stretch the triathlon association eagerly seeks to extend at the seaside town of Kep in Cambodia on May 8.
Duathlon races are penciled on May 7.
“We are hoping to repeat our dominance, but we expect stiffer competition from all, especially Singapore, which has very good swimmers [for aquathlon],’’ said Carrasco.
Aquathlon offers three gold medals, including the mixed team relay where Waqui Baniqued, Kira Ellis, Erica Burgos and Aki Lorbes are the nation’s bets, while triathlon and duathlon will dangle two golds each.
“The dynamics are different though as all events are sprint distances or half of the standard distances played in previous SEA Games,’’ said Carrasco.
Three-time women’s champion Kim Mangrobang is bracing for a fourth triathlon gold and defending men’s champion Fernando Casares is dead set on retaining his title. Mangrobang also ruled the standard distance women’s duathlon at the Hanoi SEA Games last year.
“The conditions are somewhat different, so we’ve decided to set up camp and arrive early,’’ said Carrasco after the team touched base in Kep, a three-and-half hour drive from Phnom Penh, early Sunday morning.
The team collected three golds, a silver and a bronze in the last SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, in triathlon and duathlon combined.
“I’m still confident, we’re targeting three [gold] medals, four if we are lucky,’’ said Carrasco.