CEBU CITY - In a bid to inspire fellow competitors, national team members John Chicano and Kim Kilgroe delivered a masterful performance in the triathlon competition of the 9th Philippine National Games Wednesday.
The 21-year old Chicano went full blast down the stretch to capture the gold medal in the men's 18-above category of this prestigious multi-sport tourney organized and funded by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and supported by Smart and STI.
He crossed the finish line at Maravilla Beach in nearby Tabuelan town after one hour and 1:03 minutes while two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas was not far behind with a clocking of 1:01:35 to settle for the silver medal.
Chicano said they agreed to give their best in the sprint course that features 750-meter of swim, 20-kilometer of bike and five kilometer of run to inspire fellow athletes who are all eager to be part of the national team.
"Well, we took this race seriously," said Chicano, who is ranked 672 in the latest International Triathlon Union world ranking.
"We gave our best because this is part of the national program. We also wanted to increase the level of the National Games so we can inspire other athletes to give their best in other races.
This is the second straight time for Chicano to overcome Huelgas in a major race.
Chicano finished 29th while Huelgas and another Filipino campaigner Mark Hosana emerged 33rd and 32nd places, respectively, in the Subic Bay NTT ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup in Subic.
"Nikko and I went all out, especially in the last three loops," said Chicano, who was donning the colors of his home province Zambales in this week-long event that serves as national qualifier for aspiring members of the national team.
"I think this race was good for other athletes. I noticed that some of them were pushing themselves to keep up with us so they were also improving in the process. It's also a good chance for them to display their talent."
Also emerging victorious was Kilgroe.
The 28-year old Filipino-American stunner who competed for Zambales clocked 1:09.56 to clinch the gold medal the women's 18-above event in the absence of Southeast Asian Games medalists Kim Mangrobang and Claire Adorna.
Una Sibayan of Muntinlupa City and Rue Ranibon of Cebu tallied 1:21.56 and 1:23.36 to settle for the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
"This is my first time to run as a national team member," said Kilgroe, a seasoned professional campaigner before responding to the call of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines two years ago.
"It was fun. It was a very good course. It gave me a good training before the Asian Games, the Subic Southeast Asian Championship and ITU races in China and Japan. It was a good race and everybody pushed themselves to the limit."
Meanwhile, Nicole Meah Pamintuan of Sta. Rosa City and Camilo La Torre of Gen. Santos City continued their winning ways as they claimed their fifth gold medal in the swimming competition at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
Pamintuan, the celebrated tanker from De La Salle Zobel, registered 2:15.69 to rule the girls' 200-meter freestyle, a feat that padded her collection of mints from 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle, 2,000-meter individual medley and 50-meter backstroke in the first three days of hostilities.
"I'm very happy considering what I went through going to the PNG," said Pamintuan, who is serious about gunning for a slot in the Asian Games.
"Despite the sickness, I was able to accomplish my goal and that is to win five gold medals. I'm just not sure if it's already enough for me to be included in the Asian Games. They said there's another qualifying (tournament). Hopefully, I'll make it."