Like in most everything Eric Buhain sets out to do, the pool icon doesn’t settle for anything but his best.
So what started as a personal mission to shed unwanted pounds and get back in shape has turned into a fervent love affair with the two-wheeled machine for Buhain, who is now a fixture in local cycling races.
Not surprisingly, Buhain brings to cycling the same determination, diligence, competitive fire and attention to detail that enabled him to excel in swimming, where he once reigned as Southeast Asia’s finest.
“Ang tagal ko ring hindi nagco-compete, since [my retirement in] 1993, tapos pumasok ako sa coaching, and then gobyerno. Parang ngayon ko lang nare-realize na hinahanap ko ito,” said Buhain.
The former Philippine Sports Commission chairman is now back as a private citizen, running businesses that include the innovative sport shoe Five Fingers and newly-established lighting company Lumsense.
The two-time Olympian consequently has more time for himself and his family, a luxury he didn’t have when he took on high-profile jobs as chair of the PSC and later as head of the Games and Amusement Board.
When he tipped the scales at 245 lbs. three years ago, he knew it was time to plunge back into action.
Buhain started with morning runs out and back to his home at The Fort. Biking practice at the Mall of Asia grounds followed, and eventually he progressed to trips to Cavite and other nearby provinces.
As soon as the competitive juices kicked in, he was out racing – and doing well – in individual time trials.
His weight is now down to 179 lbs. but driven as he is, the 42-year-old wants to get closer to the 160-lb. frame he had as a national swimmer as he looks forward to competing in road races.
“Kasi ’yung aking weight, at my height for a cyclist, ’yung power-to-weight ratio medyo mababa pa,” said the 5-foot-11 Buhain, winner of 15 SEA Games gold medals during his swimming career.
“Pag sa ITT medyo nakakalaban ako ng patas kasi it’s really endurance and power, makakalamang ako because of my swimming background. [Pero] kung angatan na sa bundok, medyo I’ll get left behind.
“Maganda rin namang nakakasabay ka paakyat ng Tagaytay, mga Antipolo races, yung mga mountain course. Nai-imagine ko rin na makakasali ako doon, that’s why the weight is also something I’m taking very seriously.”
From cycling, he has now set his sights on triathlon.
“Pero hindi na ako ’yung pupunta pa sa Hawaii. Para sa akin, gusto ko lang ’yung nandito ako sa Philippines, maasikaso ko ’yung negosyo,” he said. “Tapos na ako dun sa international, matagal na tayo diyan.”