Gold medalist Huelgas ‘up for challenge’ of being face of triathlon in PHI

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 23, 2017 08:57 PM
Huelgas ‘up for challenge’ of being face of triathlon in PHI
GOLDEN BOY. Nikko Huelgas (center, in blue jacket), John Chicano, Kim Mangrobang, and Claire Adorna set a 1-2 finish for the Philippines in the men's and women's divisions in triathlon in the 2017 SEA Games.

With gold and silver medals in both the men’s and the women’s divisions, the Philippines has registered its best-ever showing in triathlon in the Southeast Asian Games.

“We have delivered the best result for triathlon ever. Wala nang mai-improve dun,” men’s gold medalist Nikko Huelgas said during his homecoming dinner hosted by Chooks-to-Go on Wednesday in Ortigas.

Huelgas, with a finish of 1:59:30, was joined in the podium by fellow Filipino John Chicano (2:01:27).

In the women’s division, Kim Mangrobang clocked in at 2:11:14 to get the gold and was followed by kababayan Claire Adorna at 2:18:58.

Of course, Huelgas was nothing but proud to have been part of history for the country. “I’m so honored to be part of it. With this, we have set the bar higher for Southeast Asia,” he said.

While he had already won a gold medal in the previous regional meet, the 26-year-old said he felt different this time around. As he put it, “Honestly, nagulat ako na I felt so good during the event kasi ang daming sumasakit sa akin nun.”

He then continued, “Pero during game day, it felt like magic.”

Now, he – and later on, his three other medal-winning kababayans – will be at the forefront of the rise of an event Filipinos have proven to be more than capable at. Asked if he is ready to be the face of triathlon, he answered, full of confidence, “Yes, I’m up for the challenge. Maybe this is what god wants me to do.”

For Huelgas, his second straight first-place finish is only the beginning for the growth of triathlon. “We have been able to showcase that we are able to get to the next level. The SEA Games is just the first level, the SEA Games is just the beginning,” he expressed.

He then continued, “There’s always something to improve on and that is what’s fun in this journey.”

Going with him all the way through his journey will still be backer Bounty, the parent company of Chooks-to-Go. “Ang sarap to support an athlete like Nikko kasi narinig ko yung struggles and pain in training he had to go through,” president Ronald Mascarinas said.

He then continued, “In our own little way, we feel we are just giving Nikko a small token of our appreciation.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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