SINGAPORE: Nikko Huelgas overcame a bad swim leg and an early spill in the bike stage to give the country its second gold medal
in the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games with a come-from-behind win in the men’s triathlon at the East Coast Park here on a rainy Sunday.
Lagging in fourth place after the 1.5-kilometer swim race, Huelgas made up for lost ground in the last two stages to clinch the gold in a time of two hours, 34 minutes and 32 seconds, ahead of Malaysia’s Rikogoro Shinozuka., who took the silver in 2:05.35.
Singapore’s Rong Loo Chuan salvaged the bronze medal (2:07.01) while Jonard Saim, the other Filipino entry, lost his energy bar during the course of the competition and struggled into sixth place (2:10.18).
“It was spectacular, it was sweet and fulfilling,” said the 23-year-old Huelgas later after matching the gold-medal performance of Claire Adorna in the women’s triathlon a day earlier, and cap a Philippine sweep of event.
“I was not really expecting anything (because) at the beginning I really had a bad swim. I went from T1 (swim) to T2 (bike) feeling dizzy,” he added. “That put me down mentally, and then I slipped in the first 100 meters of the bike.”
A La Salle business management graduate, Huelgas cited the help of Saim in the bike leg to settle him down “and without him, this would not be possible.”
Aided by Saim, the mestizo-looking athlete finished the bike event in second spot and just 16 seconds behind erstwhile Thai frontrunner Wuthiwhat Hemwet, who eventually faded into eighth place overall (2:12.33).
Getting his second wind, Huelgas finally surged ahead after just first loop of the 10-kilometer run and never looked back on the way to the comeback triumph.
“It took me 10 years to achieve this. Years and years of trial and error, to be resilient and recover from your mistakes,” said newly-crowed SEA Games triathlon champ who disclosed that he was inspired to dream of competing in the sportsfest when the Philippines last hosted the event in 2005.
Incheon Asian Games veteran Daniel Parantac finally broke the ice for the country in the wushu competitions, narrowly clinching the men’s tajijian gold at the Expo Hall 2.
In a very tight three-way contest, Parantac won over the judges with his dynamic display of grace and precision, garnering 9.71 points, edging Malaysia’s Jack Chang Lang Loh, who took the silver with a score of 9.69. Indonesia’s Julius Karnawan wound up with the bronze medal (9.68). POOL REPORT