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Triathletes strike again

By Rey Bancod

KUALA LUMPUR – A golden double in triathlon kicked off the Philippines’ campaign Monday in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang sparked 1-2 finishes, bettering the country’s 2-gold, 1-silver showing two years ago in Singapore.

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Huelgas, 26, went under two hours in retaining the men’s title ahead of compatriot John Chicano who crossed the finish line nearly a minute behind.

“I’m overwhelmed with this sweep,” said Huelgas who fell down on one knee and raised his right hand in triumph after crossing the finish.
Huelgas, who clocked 1:59.21, said they worked hard to achieve the sweep.

Falling behind after the swim at the man-made Putrajaya Lake, Huelgas took command after the bike leg and went into the 10-kilometer footrace ahead of the pack.

Chicano rallied in the final leg to snatch second place in 2:01:26.

In a repeat of their duel in 2015, Mangrobang switched places with teammate Ma. Claire Adorna following a strong run.

Both rivals led from the start before Mangrobang asserted herself, clocking 2:11:14.

A spent Adorna completed the race in 2:18:58.

Mangrobang said they had planned to race together in the first two legs before pouring it all in the running stage.

The Philippines added silver each from fencing and wushu and three bronzes to improve its tally to 3 golds, 6 silvers and 6 bronzes with more medals still to be disputed deep into the night.

Fencing produced silver and bronze.

Samantha Kyle Catantan lost to a Singaporean opponent in the final of the women’s individual foil. Teammate Maxine Esteban settled for the bronze.

Another silver was collected in wushu when Agatha Chrystenzen Wong came in second in the women’s optional taijijian.

A pair of bronzes came from archery.

In the men’s team event, Florante Matan, Luis Gabriel Moreno and Mark Javier eliminated Indonesia’s Hendra Purnama, Muhammad Hanif Wijaya and Riau Ega Agata Salsabilla, 5-3, in the first round.

However, the Filipinos were shut out by Haziq Kamaruddin, Khairul Anuar Mohamad and Muhammad Akmal Nor Hasrin of Malaysia, 6-0, in the semifinals.

Against Vietnam’s Chu Duc Anh, Hoang Van and Van Duy Nguyen, the PH archers scored a 6-0 sweep for the bronze.
In women’s play, the Philippines also trounced Vietnam for the bronze medal.

Nicole Marie Tagle, Kareel Meer Hongitan and Mary Queen Ybanez blanked Le Thi Thu Hien, Loc Thi Dao and Thi Phuong Nguyen, 6-0.

In sepak takraw, the women’s regu team composed of Kristel Carloman, Lhaina Mangubat, Mary ann Lopez, Rizalyn Amolacion and Jean Marie Sumalit took the bronze.

In bowling, Jomar Jumapao and Kevin Oliver Cu placed fifth with 2485, 162 pins behind winners Alex Liew and Syafiq Ridhwan of Malaysia at the Sunway Pyramid lanes in Petaling Jaya.

Merwin Tan and Kenneth Chua wound up seventh (2484) and John Macatula and Anton Alcazaren 17th (2178).