Chances are bright that triathlete Nikko Huelgas could duplicate his gold-medal milestone in the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.
Huelgas primed himself up as the pre-race favorite in forthcoming biennial Games later this month after beating his Southeast Asian opponents by five minutes during the ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships in Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang, Indonesia.
Huelgas completed the course covering 1.5-kilometer swim, 40km bike and 10km run in two hours and 50 seconds to finish 16th overall in the men’s race behind a stellar cast of Japanese triathletes led by gold winner Jumpei Furuya.
The performance of the Athletes Commission representative to the Philippine Olympic Committee, however, was far better than the effort of Indonesians Jauhari Johan and Muhammad Ahlul Firman.
Johan placed 30th (2:05:35) and closely followed by Firman in 2:05:57, hinting of things to come for Huelgas in defending his men’s title in the SEA Games.
“We’re hoping to retain the double gold in the SEA Games at double silver na rin para mas maganda,’’ said Triathlon Association of the Philippines Tom Carrasco.
Kim Kilgroe also didn’t disappoint in the women’s race, beating her Southeast counterpart Irene See Win Chong by almost three minutes.
Kilgroe clocked 2:19:18 and Chong arrived in 2:22:06.
“We participated in the Asian championship to gauge Nikko’s rivals,’’ added Carrasco, pointing out that the best triathletes from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia competed in the continental race.
SEAG women’s champion Claire Adorna skipped the Asian championship to rest her strained calf muscle. Adorna will team up with Kim Mangrobang in the Games while John Leerams Chicano will join Huelgas in the men’s race.