Nicole del Rosario: Accidental triathlete Eyes Seag stint

CHANCE ENCOUNTER. Nicole Marie del Rosario got into triathlon thanks to a chance encounter and is now one of the most promising triathletes in the country. /
CHANCE ENCOUNTER. Nicole Marie del Rosario got into triathlon thanks to a chance encounter and is now one of the most promising triathletes in the country. / CONTRIBUTED

A CHANCE encounter with a renowned coach while jogging with her mother at the Cebu City Sports Complex changed the life of Nicole Marie del Rosario, one of the most promising triathletes in the country.

“I went with my mom for a jog at the Cebu City Sports Center, then coach John Philip Dueñas approached me and told me I had potential in running,” said del Rosario.


Dueñas is the famed Cebu running coach who molded Mary Joy Tabal from a sprinter into an Olympic marathoner and who would dabble in triathlon later in his career.

“He then later asked if I would like to try triathlon,” said del Rosario, who decided to try the sport for fun as it was something new and interesting for her.

But “fun” and “triathlon” rarely go together in a sentence, especially for those not familiar with it, since the sport involves swimming, running and biking—events that are each taxing already on its own, how much more if combined.

However, from that chance encounter, del Rosario began passionately putting her time and effort into the sport and even variations of the sport, as she began joining duathlons, aquathlons, swim meets, cycling races, and track and field meets.

“Triathlon, just like life, is complicated and requires the same ideals to be successful. One must have the discipline, the motivation, the endurance, the drive, the grit, and above all, prayers in order to power through the challenges,” she said.

Though she started late, del Rosario has taken to the sport like fish to water.

“Some triathletes were already racing competitively in any of the three disciplines (swimming, running or biking) at seven years old, while at that age I was still trying to learn how to swim,” she said.

Del Rosario’s path to the sport is unique from others; triathletes usually try the sport because their parents are into it or because they’ve joined parts of it—swimming, running or biking—but in her case, it was all because of a chance encounter with a coach.

“I started triathlon at 11 but took my training seriously at 14. I usually train twice a day, in the morning before my class starts and another one in the afternoon when my class ends. I either swim in the morning and do a bike run in the afternoon or the other way around, depending on my class schedule. Being a student athlete balancing three sports and studies needs time management, discipline and determination,” said del Rosario.

Del Rosario credits her mother as her anchor in all of these challenges.

“My mom has always been my number one supporter. She has always been pushing me to get out of my comfort zone. She helps me get through my setbacks by sending me videos that pro triathletes do, especially after a bad race,” said del Rosario.

Del Rosario said her mom made her try different sports—taekwondo, soccer and tennis—but it was in triathlon when everything clicked.

And in 2018, when she joined the Batang Pinoy National Championships in Baguio, everything clicked and she won three gold medals in the three cycling races and one gold medal in the duathlon race. She also placed fifth in triathlon, but that was due to hypothermia.

“I felt super happy and overwhelmed at the same time because I don’t usually end up winning the gold. I’m used to either placing second, third or even sometimes fourth,” said del Rosario.

Now a sophomore student at the University of San Carlos taking up political science, del Rosario is a member of the swimming team and also plays for TLTG-Go for Gold in triathlon.

“My goal now is to get a good rank in Triathlon Philippines sanctioned races to be able to get a spot to represent the country in big international races and hopefully one day be part of the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games lineup,” del Rosario said.

And with her determination, discipline and support from her mom, it’s a target that’s not out of reach for del Rosario.


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