SINGAPORE—The country finally captured its first gold medal in the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games on Saturday through Claire Adorna, who, bucking a nagging ankle injury, was the runaway winner in the women’s triathlon at the East Coast Park here.
Banking on a superb bike second leg, Adorna stamped her class in the event with a victorious time of two hours , 13 minutes and .08 seconds in a remarkable Southeast Asian Games debut for a former swimmer who just picked up the sport two years ago.
Her only real challenge came from teammate Kim Mangrobang, who pulled away from fast-fading Lin Zhiyun of Singapore in the 10-km. run leg to take the silver in 2:14.26 while Thailand’s Sannuthai Arunsiri came in third and settled for the bronze with clocking of 2:22.08.
Hometown bet Zhiyun eventually was forced to drop out due to fatigue and did not finish the race.
“Tuwang-tuwa po ako kasi sulit ang lahat ng paghihirap at pasakit,” said Adorna, disclosing later after the event that she ran with a torn right peroneal tendon on her left ankle that had bothered her since the Incheon Asian Games last year.
“Talaga kailangan na po ng surgery pero gusto ko po talagang mag-laro dito sa SEA Games at makapagbigay ng ginto sa bayan natin,” added the athlete, who was in near tears as she crossed the finished line witnessed by her entire family.
“Medyo umalalay na lang ako kay Claire dahil sa run dahil alam namin na may injury siya,” said Mangrobang after completing 1-2 finish for the Filipinos in the event and nearly caught up with her teammate in the middle of the run.
So gassed was Mangrobang, who trained at the elite training camp in Rio Maior, Portugal as part of her SEAG buildup, that she had to be placed on a wheelchair after crossing the finish line.
“Claire is our Lydia de Vega in triathlon,” said proud Philippine Olympic Committee chairman and Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco in comparing Adorna to the former Filipina track and field sensation.
‘We were very lucky kasi mahina si Adorna sa run,” added Carrasco, who was on pins on needles as he witnessed his charges battle it out on the course from beginning to end.
Even amazing was the fact that Adorna, who finished seventh in last year’s Incheon Asian Games, was that fact that she was the only triathlete out the nine entries who negotiated the swimming course properly as the rest took a slightly shorter route.
Despite this development, the Filipina still topped the initial leg with a split time of 19:20 then settled the issue on the strength of the fastest time in the 40-km. bike leg in 1:24.34. building a four-minute lead over Mangrobang, who clocked 1:28.86.
The pair will hardly have time to rest since they are scheduled to compete in the Asian Triathlon Championships in Taiwan on June 14.
“After this, I will have my operation since we will have no major races after the Asian championships,” Adorna said.
Bidding to duplicate the gold-medal sweep of their female counterparts are Niko Huelgas and Jonard Saim, who are scheduled to see action over the same course on Sunday starting at 8 a.m.
“Medyo mahirap pero palagay ko kaya,” said men’s head coach George Vilog, a triathlon silver medalist when the event was last held in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games.
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