Back-to-back Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalists Nikko Huelgas said the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP) is now targeting a podium finish in next year’s Asian Games in Indonesia and use that as a springboard to qualify in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
After capturing his second straight SEA Games gold medal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently, the 26-year-old triathlete said his teammates are not resting on their laurels and are now more inspired and determined to work harder for the upcoming two major international competitions.
“Our goal together with the Philippine triathlon is to make sure we dominate not only Southeast Asia but also the Asian continent step by step,” Huelgas told The Manila Times in an interview.
“If we accomplish that, we can compete in the world level. We are hoping that a Filipino triathlete will qualify in the 2020 Olympics,” he added.
Huelgas won his second SEA Games gold medal with a time of 1:59.30, way better than his 2:04.32 mark he set in 2015 biennial meet in Singapore.
It was actually a 1-2 finish by the men’s and women’s triathlon squads in Kuala Lumpur meet. John Chicano took the silver in the men’s side while Kim Mangrobang and Claire Adorna captured the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the women’s event.
The former De La Salle University swimmer said he’s looking forward to score a ‘grandslam’ in the 2019 SEA Games, which the country will be hosting.
“In the 2019 SEA Games, we’ll surely compete for medal sweep and win more golds,” said Huelgas, adding that the triathlon association will add a duathlon event in the event in the next biennial meet.
The team will be returning to training soon here and abroad. Huelgas is set to compete in the Powerman Duathlon Race in Clark, Pampanga on October 8.
JOSEF T. RAMOS