Huelgas, Chicano Emerge Best in Southeast Asia
PALEMBANG—John Chicano and Niko Huelgas lived up to their billing as the best male triathletes in Southeast Asia on Saturday by finishing 10th and 16th, respectively, in men’s triathlon of the 18th Asian Games that finished in front of the Jakabaring Sport City Shooting Range.
Pitted against world-rated rivals, Chicano, a silver medalist in the 2017 Malaysia Southeast Asian Games, clocked one hour, 54 minutes and 33 seconds in the 1.80-km swim/20-km bike/10-km run race, exceeding his personal best of 1:56.00 set in the 2016 Subic International Triathlon.
Chicano duplicated the 10th place finish of Jonard Sam, who clocked 1:59.00 in the 2014 edition in Incheon.
Huelgas, who bagged back-to-back golds in the 2015 Singapore and 2017 Malaysia SEA Games, logged 1:58.39, surpassing his previous time of 1:59.17 in placing 11th in the 2014 Incheon Games. He also eclipsed his winning time of 1:59.30 for his second SEAG mint in Putra Jaya two years ago.
After Chicano and Huelgas, the best Southeast Asian finisher was Malaysian Ryan at No. 21 (2:04.20) while the only other notable placer from the region was his compatriot Adrian Yeo (2:05.31) at No. 23 among the 28 out of 34 entries who finished the race.
Japan’s Junpei Furuya, currently ranked the highest Asian at No. 55 in the International Triathlon Union world ratings, easily took the gold in 1:49..33 while Uzbekistan’s Ayan Beisenbayev (1:50.38) and China’s Li Mingzu (1:50.49) copped the silver and bronze, respectively.
“I am satisfied with the results of both Rambo (Chicano’s nickname) and Niko because we were really trained for the Asian Games,” said national men’s coach Melvin Fausto, who was celebrating his 46th birthday and was pleased to see one of his wards make it to the top 10.
“Masaya po ako dahil nakapasok ako sa magic 10 at saka nahigitan ko pa yong aking best time,” noted Chicano, who saw making his individual Asian Games debut after seeing action in the mixed relays in the Incheon Asiad.
“It doesn’t matter who finishes ahead as long as we did well. We always look at our entry in triathlons as a team effort so I am happy for Rambo,” said Huelgas, who plans to compete in other forms of triathlon such as the 70.3 Ironman event.
“Pero balik pa rin ako for training in regular Olympic triathlon event so I can defend my SEAG title in the Philippines next year,” he said.
The Pinoy triathletes wring down the curtain on the country’s 18th Asian Games campaign here on Sunday as they see action in the mixed relay.
Singapore Southeast Games women’s triathlon queen Claire Adorna opens the relay, followed by Chicano, Kim Mangrobang and Mark Hosana, respectively.
They will all see action in each of the shortened 300-meter swim, 7-km bike and 1.8-km. run of the mixed relay.
The combined times of all four relay entries will determine their overall standing in the race.