DESPITE an impressive lineup of triathlon pros who gathered in Subic Bay for the inaugural Regent 5150, the most popular athlete was not even a full-time elite.
Matteo Guidicelli hadn’t even caught his breath after finishing the challenging 1.5-kilometer swim, 40km bike, 10km run course when the popular actor was surrounded by fans asking him for a selfie, the 21st century’s version of the autograph.
In an interview with reporters at the finish line in Remy Field, the 25-year-old Filipino-Italian said triathlon, despite the challenging training regimen and risks involved, remains a priority for him despite his hectic career as one of the country’s most popular stars.
And no network executive or manager can argue with Guidicelli, especially now that two generations of family are hooked in multi-sport.
“It’s amazing. My dad (Luca) was the one who started it - he was overweight, he was 240 lbs. He got into triathlon and he’s down to 160 lbs. and he inspired basically all of us - me, my sister Georgia and my eight-year old brother, Paolo, who’s doing Ironkids now,” he told SPIN.ph.
Mixing a busy career in the entertainment industry and triathlon, however, poses a lot of hurdles for Guidicelli who started triathlon four years ago, replacing car racing as his No.1 pastime of choice.
“Mahirap mag-training. Pasingit-singit (but) I enjoy doing triathlons… if gusto mo, magagawan mo ng paraan talaga,” he said.
He and his dad in fact are coming off a three-day long event called the Jiro de Luca where they cycled 530km around the picturesque island.
Although he was far from satisfied with his performance (he was six to seven minutes off his best time in the 10km run), due to a lack of training and a recent arm injury, he enjoyed Sunday’s race nevertheless.
“No excuses. It was an enjoyable race and I did what I can. Pero masaya naman 'yung event,” said Guidicelli, who competed in the 25-years old and under age group.
For his fitness, the actor said he only goes to Gold’s Gym for a few sessions but everything else is done outdoors.
Asked on what he’s learned from his favorite sport and how he applies it to his prfession, Guidicelli answered: “Marami!”
“There’s so much. In tri, you have to have dedication, if you don’t love the sport you won’t go anywhere. You have to out your passion, your heart (and) your time to do it. It’s so hard to find time to train but if you really love it you’ll find time talaga. Showbiz is really a difficult, challenging life — we don’t even have time to sleep — so it’s really hard to balance it with triathlon but if you really love what you’re doing, kaya mo ito.”
He added, “Both are difficult! Tri is hard. Acting is very challenging. It has its own different challenges but syempre if you work hard in everything, you could go places.”
A welcoming community is also a plus.
“They’re amazing, man! It’s the best community I ever had. Everyone’s so friendly, everyone helps each other. Kahit iba-ibang teams, everyone works together and they’re all very supportive."
On his role as an ambassador for multi-sport, Guidicelli said he tries to influence other celebrities while his team, Ford Forza, has an advocacy to support Filipino athletes who can’t afford the races.
“So far we have a former jeepney driver who’s now a full-time triathlete and another guy who is one of the fastest runners in Cebu. Hopefully in the years to come we can find more athletes and we can support them.”
In fact, the actor was among the first celebrities to congratulate fellow triathletes Claire Adorna and Kim Mangrobang after they won gold and silver, respectively, in the SEA Games in Singapore.
“I used to train with Claire and Kim in Nuvali. Before (Kim) left I told her, ‘You really have to win and I’m gonna root for you.' They’re both my favorite triathletes and I was so happy that I mentioned Kim right away (on social media) when they won and Claire was even injured. I’m really so proud of the guys. They did the country really proud. I hope the country gives them the credit they deserve.”