THE Triathlon Association of the Philippines is confident Nikko Bryan Huelgas and Claire Marie Adorna will again win gold in the Southeast Asian Games.
The Filipinos defend their respective crowns at the Water Sports Complex in Kuala Lumpur next week.
After ruling the previous edition of the Games in Singapore, Huelgas dominated the ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships in Jakabaring Sports City in Palembang, Indonesia in July.
He clocked two hours and 50 seconds, five minutes better than SEA Games foes in Indonesians Jauhari Johan (2:05:35) and Muhammad Ahlul Firman (2:05:57).
Adorna is fresh from a one-month training in Phuket, Thailand. Although she suffered a mild hamstring injury that limited her performance in the Asian meet, her coach Melvin Fausto believes that she’s in fighting form and could easily defend her title.
“I’m expecting both of them to win god medals,” said Trap president Tom Carrasco, the former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman and member of the SEA Games task force.
“Wag lang madidisgrasya. Kumbaga sa boxing, wag lang mala-lucky punch. Otherwise, maganda ang chances natin na makakuha ng dalawang gintong medalya.”
Also tipped to make an impact are the country’s two other bets, Kim Mangrobang and John Chicano.
Mangrobang, who notched the silver medal in the women’s division in Singapore two years ago, trained under Portuguese coach Sergio Santos in Portugal before finishing 19th out of 26 competitors in the 2017 Tiszaujvaros International Triathlon Union World Cup in Hungary.
She also ruled the distaff side of the ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships over her SEA Games rivals.
Chicano, meanwhile, is still training with Huelgas under Australian mentor Brett Sutton in Johor Bahru before taking a four-hour drive to KL on Saturday.