SUBIC, Zambales — All she wanted was to be an inspiration to others. Little did she know that she will be one someday.
The crowd's cheers reached a crescendo as Kim Mangrobang sprinted all by herself to the finish line on Sunday to rule the 30th Southeast Asian Games in women’s triathlon at the Subic Bay Boardwalk.
The sun was shining bright as the 28-year-old triathlete proved she is the best in the region for the second SEA Games in a row. Only Kim's smile was brighter.
Smiling from ear to ear, Mangrobang, who bagged her second straight SEA Games gold medal, looked back to 14 years ago when she first realized what she wanted to do in life.
“Naalala ko nung 2005, sobrang bata ko, 14 years old lang ako, pinanood ko ‘yung SEA Games 2005,” she recalled.
Mangrobang revealed that she even skipped school just so she can catch a glimpse of the triathlon event, where the Philippines' Alesandra Araullo won the silver medal.
“Sobrang na-inspire ako kina Coach Ani [de Leon-Brown] and Ate Sandra [Araullo],” she said. “As in umabsent ako sa school para mapanood ko ‘yung race nila tapos sabi ko [sa sarili ko], ‘Sana one day maka-race ako.’”
Look at her now.
“Sobrang saya ko and siyempre nanalo tayo sobrang nakadagdag pa yon, ginagawa ko ‘to para maka-inspire ng mga bata,” she said, as if playing back in her mind the same exact scene when she was the one who was left in awe of her idols.
“And para mag-grow pa ‘yung sport ng triathlon sa Pilipinas kasi sobrang laki ng advantage natin dito,” she added.
After her gold medal in triathlon, Mangrobang, along with the 2017 silver medalist Claire Adorna, 2019 men’s triathlon gold medalist Rambo Chicano and rising star Fernando Casares, took home the gold medal in triathlon team relay on Monday.
After the SEA Games, Mangrobang is training her sights on a bigger goal: Olympic qualification.
“Tina-try natin mag-qualify sa Olympics para sa first Filipino triathlete, so gagawin naming yun lahat,” she said. “Sa January babalik ako sa Portugal para mag-training, sa February magsa-start na ako mag-race ng World Cup Series.”