The Philippines capped its campaign in the 18th Asian Games by finishing sixth in mixed relay of triathlon that ended in front of the Jakabaring Sport City Shooting Range on a sunny Sunday morning in Palembang.
Teaming up for the first time in a major event, the Philippine quartet — Claire Adorna, John Chicano, Kim Mangrobang, and rookie Mark Anthony Hosana — logged a total time of one hour, 39 minutes and 0.08 seconds in the 300-meter swim, 6.3-km. bike, and 2.1-km run, to finish sixth out of 13 countries that saw action in the event.
Fresh from a one-month training camp in Johore Bahru in Malaysia, the squad matched the sixth place finish of the country with the team composed of Adorna, Nikko Huelgas, Mangrobang, and Chicano in the 2014 Incheon Games.
“Masaya naman kami. Top Six is good,” said Mangrobang.
“Sobrang saya namin dahil yung teamwork namin, nakita namin today. Wala kaming ibang mahihiling today,” added Adorna.
“Claire is our strongest swimmers, while Kim and John are our strongest links in the relay so we placed them in the middle,” remarked coach Melvin Fausto of the team’s strategy. “Those two athletes served as the bridge so hindi masyadong makalayo ang kalaban.”
The Filipinos finished eight minutes and 29 seconds behind gold medalist Japan (1:30.39), which swept all three golds at stake in the sport. Korea (1:32.21) and surprising Hong Kong (1:33.04) bagged the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
“First time ko sobrang sarap. ‘Di naman po ako nagulat kasi medyo nahabol nila yung kalaban namin. Inisip ko na lang na i-push pa yung bike run ko,” shared rookie Hosana.
“Sana ma-build pa natin yung gap sa fellow Southeast Asian teams natin,” added Chicano.
National women’s coach Ani De Leon-Brown also pointed out that the battle for top honors was intense, as the Asian Games serves as an Olympic qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games where the mixed relay will be a medal sport for the first time in the global meet.
With Japan assured of a slot as the host, the other two will go to the silver and bronze medalist in the mixed relay, “kaya patay kung patay kung lumabang ang mga strong teams dito,” noted Brown.
Assessing the overall performance of the triathlon squad, Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco said, “we need more training overseas and competition to bring ourselves closer [to the] Asian level of Japan, Korea and China. This is why we sent Kim to train in Portugal while the other team members are now training in Johore Bahru.”