Triathletes fall short in grueling Asian Championships

Filipino triathletes missed their chance of earning Tokyo Olympic berths on Saturday following a grueling race at the 2021 Asian Triathlon Championships in Hatsukaichi, Japan.

Kim Mangrobang and debuting Fer Casares finished 11th and 13th places in the women’s and men’s divisions in the race that only staked one Olympic ticket per gender.

Mangrobang, a double gold medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, clocked 2:16:57 behind eventual women’s champion Zhong Mengying of China, who registered 2 hours, 8 minutes and 10 seconds.

Casares, meanwhile, timed 1:57:40 behind men’s winner Kenji Nener, who finished with 1:48:59.

Kim Remolino, for its part, did not finish the men’s race after being lapped in the bike leg.

Despite the performances, the three PH athletes will still continue their campaign for Olympic berths through earning ranking points in upcoming races.

Casares said he did "okay" in his first Asian elite race.

"We couldn't warm up the swim before the race so I was a bit worried about my start. However, I swam good I think. I could take a bike group of three athletes and we caught up many guys on the bike. The run off was okay too," he told Manila Bulletin.

Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP) President Tom Carrasco still lauded the athletes’ efforts, who showed a bright future in their young ages particularly the 24-year-old Casares.

“At this stage of his young triathlon career (three to four years), he’s got a lot of potential. We will invest in him,” said Carrasco of the Fil-Spaniard, who debuted at the 2019 SEAG with a gold medal in the mixed relay event.

Carrasco is also optimistic of Remolino despite not finishing the race.

“He was very slow in the swim leg. Nanigas daw muscles niya sa lamig (sub 18 degrees Celsius). But he’s only 20 years old. Triathlon Olympians average 28 to 32 peaking years nila,” he said.

Carrasco also has high hopes for Mangrobang, 29, to qualify in the Tokyo Games with four to five events lined up in Northern Africa and Southern Europe.

Casares and Remolino, for their parts, will try two more races in Japan in the coming months.