Kims book modest finish in Asian Games triathlon

In Photo: Kim Mangrobang winds up seventh and two runs down behind her is Kim Kilgroe.

JAKARTA—Kim Mangrobang and Kim Kilgroe finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in the 18th Asian Games women’s triathlon dominated by the continent’s traditional top guns on Friday morning in Palembang.

The pace and humidity dragged most of the competitors down—but not Japan’s Yuko Takahashi, China’s Zhong Menying and Macau’s Hoi Long, the top three finishers in the 1.8-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run race that wound up in front of the Jakabaring Sport City Shooting Range.

Running in a tie for third after the 40-km bike race, Mangrobang strained to keep pace with her rivals, eventually fading to No. 7 to breast the tape in two hours, five minutes and 20 seconds.

Filipino-American Kilgroe, who at one point was second overall during the bike leg, had a respectable Asian Games debut, clocking 2:06.57.

Takahashi won the gold in 1:59.29, handilly beating Menying (2:01.16) and Hoi Long (2:01.28).

“I’m still very happy with my result,” said Mangrobang, women’s gold medalist in triathlon’s debut in the Southeast Asian Games two years ago in Singapore.

“We all trained hard for these Asian Games, and it all boiled down on who was in her best elements today,” added the prize of Santa Rosa, Laguna.

The 27-year-old Mangrobang, however, refused to blame the sweltering and humid weather, which reached a high of 30 degrees Celsius—10 degrees hotter than in Rio Maior in Portugal where she and the other Philippine triathlon team members are training.

“It was hot but manageable,” said Mangrobang, who improved on her ninth-place finish in Incheon four years ago.

A member of the national team since 2016, Kilgroe was delighted by her maiden Asian Games outing.

“Just being being here is already an awesome experience for me.  To be able to play for our country a and get a good finish exceeded my expectations.”

Women’s team coach Ani de Leon Brown said she was generally satisfied by the performance of both her wards, but noted the hot conditions had affected Mangrobang “because she was coming over from Europe where the weather is still cool.”

“Had Kim [Mangrobang] managed to stay with the first pack, she could have wound up among the top five,” Brown said.

Brown pointed to the superb strategy of the Japanese duo of Takahashi, ranked No. 15 in the International Triathlon Union  world ratings, and Yuka Sato in ensuring that her teammate won the gold.

“Sato ‘killed’ the rest of the field and acted as the buffer so that her compatriot would win,” noted Brown of the Japanese, ranked No. 20 in the world, who eventually bowed out just a few meters into  the 10-km run leg.

Sato was one of four casualties of the event’s scorching conditions, reducing the  22-woman field to 18 at the finish.

Southeast Asian Games men’s triathlon champion Niko Huelgas and John Chicano are set to compete in the men’s triathlon on Saturday.

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