CEBU CITY - Sibling rivalry may be the top storyline in the 2016 Alaska Ironkids in Cebu on Saturday but it’s an emerging talent who might steal the thunder from the Borlain Sisters.
While all eyes may be on Samantha and Tara Borlain who will go head to head in the 13-14 year old age group, 13-year old Jana Macalalad is determined to steal the show come the 6 a.m. gun start for the 400 meter swim- 12km bike-3km run course.
Considered a dark horse in Cebu, the Grade 7 student from Muntinlupa City is coming off an impressive stint at the 2016 Singapore International Triathlon where she finished with a bronze medal.
“I was nervous because it was my first international race and at the same time I was confident because I was bringing the Philippines… It was very happy po. It was my dream and I am now doing it.”
This year, Jana became one of the youngest members of the Philippine Triathlon Developmental Team, an indication that she will seriously pursue the sport. The youngest of five siblings, Jana belongs to a family of athletes, with her elder brother a member of the national team currently training in Portugal.
She considers the moment a very proud one.
“I was very proud…. (my parents) were very happy because I am following my brother’s footsteps.”
Jana’s entry to triathlon began when she was six years old. A gifted swimmer, Macalalad’s potential was noticed by her coach at La Salle Zobel who convinced her to join an aquathlon where she finished fourth.
“My dad became happy and he continued to let me play,” she told SPIN.ph after she had just finished getting her Ironkids race number painted on her.
She finished first place once (in the 9-10 age category). Asked if she could finally take one from the Borlain Sisters.
“We’ll see!” Jana said with a confident smile.
The 400 children participating in this Saturday’s race is the biggest ever field since the race started six years ago alongside the Cobra Energy Ironman 70.3 in Cebu.
She considers five-time ITU World Triathlon champion Javier Gomez and her brother Edward as her inspirations.
Even at a young age, Jana knows where to find motivation for a multi-disciplined sport. “You can’t be tired in what you love because if you love the sport you keep going and you’ll never get tired.”
When SPIN.ph asked what she loves about triathlon, her earnest answer was a breath of fresh air: “Everything - how you do it, the support, how athletes play the race and how (people) cheer you up.”
In the face of difficulties during a race, Jana said she draws her strength from injured and disabled athletes who continue to persevere despite their handicaps.
“It gives me courage and more power. If they can do it, why can’t I?”