MIRASOL Abad did the country proud as she earned a berth to the 2013 World Games in Colombia following a strong third place finish in the female elite division of the Century Tuna ASTC Asian Duathlon Championships on Sunday held in an out-and-back course at Remy Field, Subic Bay Freeport.
The 27-year-old Abad engaged two-time Olympian Ai Ueda of Japan in a neck-and-neck race, only to lose steam in the final two kilometers in the second run.
The native of Davao City negotiated the 10-k run, 40-k bike, and 5-k run in two hours, one minute and 57 seconds as she became the first Filipina duathlete to earn a spot to the World Games.
The 29-year-old Ueda, a multi-awarded triathlete but seeing action in only her second duathlon race, led from start to finish for a winning time of 2:00:54, while teammate Eri Miyazawa outsprinted Abad in the last 150 meters to claim the silver medal with a time of 2:01:47.
Completing the top five that advance to the World Games were former Asian champion Airi Sawada (2:04:57) and Joyce Cheung from Hong Kong (2:07:11).
“We were five Japanese in the lead pack after the first run, but the Filipina duathlete suddenly caught up with us in the bike,” said Ueda, a Beijing and London Olympics veteran who also bagged the Asian women’s title in the event presented by Century Tuna and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Fitness First, Asian Centre for Insulation Philippines (ACIP), Standard Insurance, and Gatorade.
“We were one and two in the final run until I manage to increase the pace. I’m very happy with the win since I am a triathlete racing only in duathlon for the second time.”
“She (Ueda) maintained her strong pace in the last two kilometers that I decided to slow down to ensure that I’ll be able to finish the race,” said Abad.” I was really expecting to do well after a second place finish in the Malakoff Powerman in Malaysia last week, and I’m very much satisfied with a third place finish.”
Russian Sergey Yakovlev showed no ill effects of jetlag as he dominated Japanese rivals Yuka Fukaura and Morimichi Iihoshi with an event best time at 1:43:14 to top the men’s elite division.
Yakovlev arrived in the country barely 24 hours before the race.
Fukaura fell short by just four seconds at 1:43:18, but retained his Asian men’s title, while Iihoshi took third with a time of 1:43:41.
Another Japanese duathlete in Tadashi Mori (1:43:44) and Thomas Bruins of Netherlands (1:44:27) completed the top five in the men’s side to likewise earn berths to the World Games.
Ryan Mendoza, the 2006 Asian champion, emerged as the top Filipino in the elite race with a seventh place finish following a time of 1:46:59.