TRIATHLON champ Kim Mangrobang is ready to get the gold. Again.
Mangrobang got her first ever Southeast Asian Games gold in 2017, and she's more than ready to claim another one this year.
The 27-year-old athlete has been living at Rio Maior Desmor, a high performance sports center in Portugal for four years now, to prepare for the 30th SEA Games this December, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification.
But Mangrobang knows her priorities, as her eyes are set on the SEA Games gold for now.
"'Yung sa SEA Games kasi, end of the year siya, so after nung mga races ko para mag-qualify sa Olympics, 'yun na 'yung focus namin," she explained. "Kagaya nun, pupunta kami sa Philippines para mag-training camp for two weeks and sasama ko si (Portugese coach) Sergio (Santos). Ganun kami mag-prepare for SEA Games."
She races at least thrice a month as part of her intense training to stay motivated. Even with that, she needed to finish four races in South America, Lima, Sto. Domingo, and Argentina before flying back to the Philippines.
Mangrobang might not be feeling the pressure yet, but she's aware that she has the chance to win the country's first gold medal, with triathlon lined up as the first event in the SEA Games.
She stressed, "'Yun nga, hindi ko iniisip 'yung pressure. Pero feeling ko 'pag nandun na ako, siyempre kakabahan ako. Pero kahit anong mangyari sa SEA Games, hindi 'yun 'yung basehan ng career ko and alam kong hindi pa matatapos 'yung career ko pagkatapos nun."
As per her coach, training in Portugal has given the triathlon queen a huge advantage; she has become a different athlete now compared to the 23-year-old that arrived there four years ago.
"She's (Kim) been improving step by step. The reality of triathlon has been changing the past few years. The guys are more and more powerful. So we've been trying to adapt Kim to this new normal. That's the first change we've been dealing with," Santos shared. "Also mentally, she's now much more confident when she's racing at the international level. She loves training, she's very focused. When she realized that there's a real chance, she completely changed, mostly what she needs to do by herself in terms of recovery, what are the exercises, and the complementary kind of drills."
For Mangrobang, she wouldn't be in this position if not for her family members, who has been her support system since she was starting out at 14 and adjusting to the intense training and constant racing.
She narrated, "Kasi ang dami sa Philippines na hindi nakakaintindi ng sport na 'to. Gumigising sila nang maaga, hinahatid nila ako sa pool ng 5 a.m. para mag-training lang. Tapos sa hapon ganun ulit. So ang swerte ko dahil ganun 'yung family ko sa akin, todo support sila sa sport na ginagawa ko and game lang sila."
Seeing Filipinos being happy with her achievements also serves as motivation for Mangrobang, who is scheduled to race on December 1 in Subic.
"Siyempre nakaka-inspire din minsan 'pag nasa ibang bansa ako, lalo na 'yung mga races ko na nakakakita ako ng mga sumusuporta sa akin. Alam ko 'yung paghihirap ko worth it basta mapasaya ko 'yung mga kababayan ko."