THE two-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas made a splashing debut in the half-Ironman distance as he bagged the men’s Asian elite crown in the Regent Aguila Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.
Huelgas crossed the finish line with a total time of 4 hours, 24 minutes and 56 seconds to stun the half-Ironman veterans like many-time champion August Benedicto.
“It’s my first time to do a 70.3 race in the Philippines and I’m glad I did it in Cebu. The crowd was really there to support you. I’ve been to many races all over the world, I can say the experience in this race was different,” Huelgas said during the Meet The Champs.
The reigning SEA Games gold medalist Huelgas, who’s used to the standard distance race, showed that he could also dominate the 70.3 distance, which covers a 1.9-kilometer swim, 90K bike and 21K run, after a statement win against some of the top triathletes in the country and Asia.
“I was just steady on the swim portion. During the bike I was just focused, trying to find my rhythm and the right technique and then I gave it all in the run portion,” said Huelgas, who was in jubilant celebration after crossing the finish line.
Benedicto finished second with a time of 4:32:44, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Yu-Hung nabbed third place in 4:36:11.
Huelgas came out of the water in 28:26, trailing Yu-Hung by three seconds. The two protagonists were still at it with the bike as Yu-Hung finished the bike in 2:16:14 and was followed by Huelgas in 2:17:33.
Huelgas put it all out in the run segment with a clocking of 1:34, while Yu-Hung faltered at 1:46:27, enabling Benedicto, who completed the run in 1:32:33, to steal the second place honors.
It was Huelgas’ second race in Cebu following the 2018 National Age Group Triathlon in the City of Naga in December 2018.
Cebu’s bet Jorry Ycong of Cebu City Rider Omega Triathlon Team settled for fourth place in 4:41:36. He completed the swim portion in 28:21, finished the bike segment in 2:29:22 and time clocked 1:39:35 in the run.
Meanwhile, Alexandra Ganzon won the women’s side uncontested. She crossed the finish line in 5:43:31. (RSC)