PHILIPPINE and Australian bets shared honors in the Open Elite divisions of the 23rd NTT-ASTC Subic Bay International Triathlon (SuBIT) on Sunday, highlighted by Filipinas sweeping the top two spots in the women's side while Aussies took first third and third places in the men's category.
Kim Mangrobang, the country's second-ranked female triathlete, showed the gains of her intense training in Portugal by finishing first by initially keeping pace with teammates Fil-Am Kim Kilgroe and SEAG gold medalist Claire Adorna in the 1.5K swim and 40K bike legs before making her move in the final 10K of the run leg
It came as a surprise win for Mangrobang, who had to interrupt her training abroad to rush back here due to her father's death a week ago.
"I had no plans of joining but my coach told me just to race since I was already here. I just wanted to finish but when we got out in the run leg, I felt I could take it all the way to the finish," said the 24-year-old Mangrobang after topping the race organized by the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP) in cooperation with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and presented by the SBMA Tourism Department with solid support from the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Two weeks from now, Mangrobang, who ruled SuBIT's Under-23 division two years ago, will compete in the Asian Triathlon Championship in Japan, where she eyes a top 5 finish to earn ITU points in her quest to make it to the 2020 Olympic Games.
Kilgroe, who lives in California but traces her mother's roots in Zambales, conceded to Mangrobang in the run leg,
"I tried to catch up in the run leg but she was too strong. I am happy with my performance as I was expecting a podium finish this time from my 16th place last year. I prepared more seriously this time, " said Kilgroe, who clocked 2:12.29 to Mangrobang's 2:10.40.
Third place went to Hong Kong bet Kate Rutherford who negotiated the distance in 2:13.15, followed by a disappointed and hobbled Adorna in 2:19.59.
"I was frustrated because my foot injury is still bothering me, particularly in the bike. It was painful and was still hurting even after the race," said Adorna, a five-time UAAP Most Outstanding Athlete
Taipei's Ting Ting Chang finished with a time of 2:20.36 to round out the Top 5 of the women's division of the event, which was also supported by Century Tuna, Standard Insurance, Gatorade, Asian center for Insulation, Subic Holiday Villas, ACEA Subic Bay, Enervon, Biker's Cafe, The Lighthouse Marina Resort and media partners Solar Sports, Philippine Star, Kikay Runner and PinoyFitness.com.
Meanwhile, the men's division had a similar story as the women's podium finishers as Australian Joel Tobin White, running his second SuBIT race, also broke away in the first lap of the run to post an impressive solo finish in 1:56.09 while Greek James Chronis, who used to run for Australia until he opted to run for his native country two years ago, ended up second with 1:56.45.
"I put in a surge while he slowed down, I knew I could make it if I do well in the swim leg, and I did, the heat also did not bother me at all " said the 23-year-old professional triathlete who credited his coach Danielle Stefano at the Victorian Institute of Sport back in Melbourne.
Third place went to Aussie James Thorp who crossed the finish line in 1:56.58.
Among the male Filipino triathletes, Olongapo native John Chicano had the best time with 2:01.42, good enough for 8th place. Chicano admitted he had a rough start in the swim leg, but was still happy with his performance.
"Naghabol ako sa bike leg pero malalakas talaga yung mga foreign runners. Na-meet ko [rin] naman target time at finish ko dito," he said.
In the men's U-23 side, Singaporean Sumedha Um Kian Tat went home with the title, clocking 2:20.54, followed by two other entries from Macau, Chak Long Un (2:21.37) and Chi Meng Ieong (2:26.53).
TRAP President Tom Carrasco admitted that the field was not as strong as it used to be because of another World Cup race in China on the same day, but still came away impressed with the performance especially of Pinoy triathletes.
"It was a good opportunity for our triathletes, particularly Mangrobang, to show what they are capable of doing. We are on track with our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games where we hope to qualify for the first time," said Carrasco.