GROWING up in Cebu—one of the country’s hubs for triathlon—it was easy for Moira Frances Erediano to get hooked on the three-discipline sport at the age of nine. Four years after she started, she’s now a four-time champion in the Alaska Ironkids Philippines.

Erediano of Organique Acai Triathlon Team added another feather to her cap by topping the girls’ 13 to 14 division of the 2018 Alaska Ironkids Philippines in the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday.

The Grade 8 Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) student trailed after the swim and bike portions but managed a comeback in the run portion, where she took the lead in the first 400 meters.

Erediano clocked an overall time of 41 minutes and 12.7 seconds in the 400-meter swim, 12K bike and 3K run race. Erediano came out of the water in 7:20 and was in ninth place before picking the pace up with the fastest time of 17:31 in the bike and fastest run at 13:44.

“I felt some pressure especially after the swim but I just stayed focused and just gave my best on the bike and run. I’m happy that I was able to finish strong and eventually won the race,” said Erediano, who dedicated the win to her supportive parents and coaches.

The 13-year-old Cebuana was last year’s girls’ 11 to 12 champion in the Cebu and Subic legs before moving up to the 13 to 14 class this year. In her debut in the new division, she won the Davao leg last summer.

“There’s a saying that it takes a village to build a champion. That what happened to Moira. We got a lot of help from her coaches. She has four coaches. This is the result of all the hard work,” said Moira’s father, Fritz.

To prepare for the triathlon season, Erediano was under the tutelage of swimming coach Benjoe Gimenez, bike mentor and Marlboro Tour champion Rolando Pagnanawon, running coach Presing Capampangan and triathlon coach Roland Remolino.

“I’m very proud of Moira. It was a good performance. She was recently added to the national junior developmental team and she showed in this race that she deserved the spot,” said Remolino.

It was a clean sweep for Cebuana triathletes in the 13 to 14 division as Talisay City Triathlon Group’s Nicole Marie del Rosario and Jeanne Marie Cañete finished in second and third places in 42:01.1 and 43:11.4.

On the other hand, it was a pulsating photo finish for the boys’ 13 to 14 division between eventual champion Zedrick James Borja of Laguna and second placer Clifford Pusing.

Borja, a San Beda Alabang student, clocked 38:24.0 to win the boys’ 13 to 14, his first Ironkids Philippines title in Cebu. Pusing settled for second place with a time of 38:24.01. Earol Belonguil finished at 39:49.5 for third place.

“I was surprised. I did not expect that I was first. It was an exciting sprint finish, and this was the most unforgettable race for me in Cebu,” said Borja when informed by journalists that he came out first in the official results.

Justin Hermosa (34:49.2) and Kira Ellis (38:02.2) ruled the boys’ and girls’ 11 to 12 division.

Jacob Kennedy Lipura (35:52.2) and Jacob Clint Lipura (36:06.9) were the runners-up in the boys’ division, while Kelly Yin Wern Long (40:25.2) and Arianna Danielle Lim (4`1:42.8) finished second and third in the girls’ division.

The other champions were Carron Paulter Canas (27:48.5, boys’ 9-10 division), Zurielle Kenzie Galo (30:08.5, girls’ 9-10 division), Kenshie Luke Cabando (18:52.7, boys’ 6-8 division), Christy Ann Perez (21:51.1, girls’ 6-8 division), Rider Omega Triathlon Team (22:34, relay 10-14 division) and THT Kristen (16:37.6, relay 6-9 division).

“We have seen new participants. In my observation, there are kids who are trying the sport. It’s our goal to get more kids into triathlon in different regions nationwide,” said Alaska Milk Corp.’s associate brand manager Diane Guerta.