By Mars G. Alison
Competition among the young and budding triathletes in Cebu continues to be healthy with members of the Triathlon developmental pool finishing at the top of their respective categories in last Sunday’s SuperTriKids (STK) competition of the Cebu leg of the 2014 National Age-Group Triathlon Series held in Danao City in northern of Cebu.
Philippine Junior Elite member Justin Chiongbian ruled the Boys 16-17 category after crossing the finish line more than five minutes of second placer Jezreel Tan.
Chiongbian clocked 34 minutes and 59 seconds while Tan crossed the finish line in 41:43.
Chiongbian will be the lone Cebuano member of the Philippine youth triathlon team who will be leaving for a training camp in Portugal under Sergio Santos, the coach of the Portugal triathlon team. Santos also coached Vanessa Fernandes who won silver in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Other members of the team are Olongapo’s Ohj Nobles, Jimwell Patelan and Vicky Deldio. From Portugal, the group will proceed to Kazakstan for the Asian Qualifying wherein only five junior triathletes from Asia will qualify for this year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China.
Justin was not the only Chiongbian who brought home a win as his younger sister Savannah was uncontested for the Girls 7-8 title and younger brother Yuan finished second in the Boys 13-15 category.
Savannah clocked 7:14 while Yuan was just a second behind first placer Ralph Eduard So with his time of 36.42.
Yuan Chiongbian was suffering from a foot injury and could not cope with So in the run leg.
Third place was clinched by Craig Joshua Uy with his time of 42:39.
Aaliyah Ricci Mataragnon continues to lord it over in the Girls 13-15 category by crossing the finish line in 41:43, once again relegating Shaia Ruth Uy to second place with her time of 42:50. The third place was salvaged by Issa Priagula who finished the race in 44:50.
Mataragnon would have competed in the open division as she is using this race as her final tuneup for a race in Singapore this weekend, but she was relegated to the STK as the International Triathlon Union is very strict about letting kids race in just short distances.
Dominating the Boys 11-12 was Bernard Sy with his time of 30:27. Russel So clocked 30:52 to bag second place while Nyko Archival finished third with 32:56.
The distaff side was ruled by Ella Stevens who clocked 29:50 while Nyka Archival took the second place honors after clocking 38:56.
The Boys 9-10 title went to Hans William who had a time of 15:30, while the distaff side title went to Syrah Ruth Uy who finished with 13:48. The younger Uy, this time, relegated the younger Mataragnon, Althea, to second place.
Althea took a tumble while attempting to ride her bike but she made up for it in the run and eventually finished the race in 16:19. Third place went to Dani Benitez who had a time of 16:52.
National coach Rick Reyes, who handled the technical aspects of the race, said he is very happy with the progress of the young triathletes here in Cebu pointing out the improvements in Ralph Eduard So and William.
He said that he is happy with the depth of their improvement adding that without depth, it will be hard to develop the correct mentality among the kids.
“Cebu did so well in the Batang Pinoy last year, hats off to them. Back in 2012, they were a distant second to Laguna,” Reyes said.
The national coach attributes this progress to more coaches now in Cebu who are dedicated to the grassroots development of the sport.
He revealed that he is in talks with Ricky Ballesteros, the Cebu City Sports Center general manager, regarding the holding of more training and races here in Cebu including the Batang Pinoy this year.
According to Reyes, Asia has become very competitive now in the sport citing that one of the sport’s gold medalist in the Singapore YOG came from Japan.
Our boys have better chances in the upcoming Asian qualifying, Reyes said.
“But we don’t stop at the YOG, we will continue to produce world-class triathletes,” Reyes said.