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Multi-titled national triathlete Nikko Huelgas knew he had two important factors that could help him realize his dream of becoming a national team member.
Aside from being passionate about a specific sport, he had this burning desire to be part of the national squad.
The problem was, no matter how fervent Huelgas’ efforts were in badminton which was actually his first love, his skills were not enough for him to achieve his goal.
Huelgas’ aspirations reached fever pitch when he saw topnotch badminton players from here and the rest of the region strut their wares during the 2005 SEA Games hosted by the Philippines.
This was when reality started to set in for Huelgas.
“That was the first time that I aspired big. That I wanted to become a national athlete whatever it takes,” said Huelgas. “But I knew I couldn’t achieve that sa badminton no matter how I love the sport. So I went to swimming. That taught me how to start becoming very rational and practical.”
At age 15, Huelgas moved to swimming then eventually became part of the De La Salle team in college.
“I knew na for me to improve the fastest way possible, I needed to surround myself with much better people,” said Huelgas.
In 2009, Huelgas joined a fun run near their place in Las Piñas.
“Out of curiosity lang pag-sali ko kasi nag-boom din ang fun run noon,” said Huelgas.
Huelgas won the 5km run, a feat that led to him being noticed by triathlon national team coach Ric Reyes who happened to be the organizer of the event.
“Coach Ric told me to join an aquathlon event since I was a good runner and a swimmer and if I do well, he told me I can get you to the national team. Dun na tumunog yung tenga ko,” revealed Huelgas.
Huelgas joined three aquathlon events afterwhich and won all three tournaments, paving the way for him to finally obtain dream of being a national team member.
“ I was really so desperate I really wanted to make this team. After so many years of not missing a workout,” said Huelgas.
While he has won numerous national and international events since then, Huelgas still felt a lot of pressure during his first SEA Games stint in 2015.
“Bigla kong naisip yung mga nangyari na, paano kung hindi ko ito makuha? They spent so many millions on me,” said Huelgas.
Eventually, Huelgas was able to take away the pressure the day of the race and went on to win his first SEA Games gold.
“I woke up that day and told myself, ‘today is the best day of my life’,” added Huelgas.
Huelgas is now in the process of defending his SEA Games title by joining the qualifying tournament for PH team members in the April 29-30 Subic Bay Asian Cup.
The next SEAG is set August of this year in Malaysia. (Dennis Principe)