SUBIC, Zambales – As John Rambo Chicano floats on cloud nine after clinching gold for the Philippines in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games triathlon event on Sunday, he looked back on the days he hustled twice as hard to master the sport.
Starting off as a local cyclist, Chicano struggled to learn the other two elements of the grueling endurance multisport, especially swimming. But he slowly progressed under the guidance of his first coach, Melvyn Fausto, who introduced him to triathlon.
“Hindi ako marunong lumangoy talaga, nalulunod pa nga ako noon, matagal din bago ako matuto, tapos ngayon nakuha na natin ang gold para sa bansa,” shared the 28-year-old triathlete. “Nakilala ko si coach Melvyn 10 years ago, tinuruan niya ako mag-swim and run, step by step naman talaga.”
Chicano recalled his first international competition, when he endured having self-doubts after his performance in swim.
He told SPIN LIFE: “Nung nilaban ako ng coach ko sa international, Subic Bay International Triathlon 2010, sprint distance, ako ‘yung huling-huling umahon sa tubig tapos inabutan pa ako ng mga babae, humabol na lang ako sa bike, at sa run.”
Today, he could only thank his lucky stars as he celebrates his podium win after finishing first with 1:53:26, his personal best, and trailed by another PHI bet Andrew Kim Remolino, who crossed the line at 1:55:03, and Indonesia’s Muhammad Ahlul Firma, who settled for bronze with a 1:57:10 record.
“Talagang hindi ako makapaniwala pero ito na, ‘yung feeling na nirerepresenta mo ‘yung bansa, sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam,” he added.