SINGAPORE – Nikko Huelgas won the men’s triathlon gold of the 28th Southeast Asian Games after what he claimed ‘the worst week of his life.’
Anxiety built up in the days leading to the biennial meet as the 23-year-old Huelgas felt the weight of winning a gold for the country on his shoulder.
Huelgas admitted he didn’t want the three-month training he and the rest of the triathlon team underwent in Portugal in preparation for the Singapore Games to go down the drain.
“I had the worst week of my life. I experienced jetlag for the first time. I can’t sleep in the evening. I only had 15 minutes of sleep. I consumed melatonin just to calm down myself because of fear and anxiety,” Huelgas disclosed.
“I felt that I was the most pressured guy in triathlon.”
His fears nearly came true on Sunday as the Filipino bet had a bad start in the swim leg and then slipped on the wet road barely 100 meters into the bike stage.
“I didn’t expect it (the gold) because I had a bad swim. I was feeling dizzy and it pulled me down mentally. It pulled me down again mentally because I slipped at the first 100m,” Huelgas said.
In the end, the experience gained in the Portugal training kicked in.
“I had to adjust everything. I have to use my instincts. It took me 10 years to achieve this, years and years of trial and error. It’s not by luck. It’s by instinct and experience. You have to be resilient and be able to recover from your mistake,” said Huelgas.
Here's a video of the interview with Huelgas: