Triathlete Nikko Huelgas is keeping the lessons he had experienced over the last three months after completing his basic military training to become a full-fledged Air Force reservist.
Now a sergeant from the Flight Alpha, Class of 2020 Bagwislawin of the Air Force Reserve Command, Huelgas has deep respect for the military men who risked their lives to serve the country.
“Being part of the military is such an honor and it’s very fulfilling. The insightful lessons and friendships I’ve gained are something I’ll carry for years to come and I’m happy to be of extra service to my country,” the two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist told the Manila Bulletin.
Huelgas, 29, said the experience was far different and unexpected compared to his countless training days with the national team.
He highlighted the last three days of field exercise training as the most brutal, where they did obstacle courses, firing an M16 rifle, map reading and reacting to different types of ambushes.
“The best part about this experience was the trekking for two days and sleeping on the grass with two days of no shower or change of clothes! I didn’t even know how I was able to sleep with such,” said Huelgas.
Though military and triathlon training are different, Huelgas said it both demands the best from anyone.
“Beside the different sets of skills, the military demanded more teamwork and camaraderie and punishments for not following instructions would affect everyone in the group,” he said.
“Two days we had about only two to three hours of sleep as opposed to triathlon training, sleep is crucial in performance.”
Huelgas said he plans to do more military schooling to gain skills such as in rescue diving, hoping that he will be assigned for those missions with the 505th Search and Rescue team.
For now, he remains active in their programs with their foundation, Students’ Transformation and Enrichment for Truth-Values Integration and Promotion (STET-VIP), by doing regular relief operations.
Huelgas is also looking forward to getting back to heavy triathlon training in the coming months as he targets to join races by March.