Triathlete Adorna overcomes injury to give PH first SEA Games gold medal

Manolo Pedralvez

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Triathlete Adorna overcomes injury to give PH first SEA Games gold medal
Performing with a nagging ankle injury, Claire Adorna’s painstaking efforts were rewarded with the country‘s first gold medal

SINGAPORE – What triathlete Claire Adorna’s accomplished on Saturday, June 6, can aptly be called bucking the pain for a golden gain.

Performing with a nagging ankle injury, Adorna’s painstaking efforts were rewarded with the country‘s first gold medal in the 28th Southeast Asian Games with a runaway win in the women’s triathlon at East Coast Park in Singapore.

Relying on a superior time in the bike second leg, she conquered the nine-woman field in a time of two hours, 13 minutes and .08 seconds for a memorable SEA Games maiden appearance for the ex-swimmer who got interested in the sport through a former boyfriend two years ago.

Providing the only true opposition to her was teammate Kim Mangrobang, who made her move in the bike leg to break away from Singapore’s Lin Zhiyun, completing a splendid 1-2 finish for the Filipinas in bagging the silver (2:14.26).

Thailand Sannuthai Arunsiri salvaged the bronze medal (2:22.08) after Zhiyun dropped out of the race in the run due to fatigue.  

“Tuwang-tuwa po ako kasi sulit ang lahat ng paghihirap at pasakit,” said the 21-year-old Adorna, who later revealed that she had competed with a torn right peroneal tendon on her left ankle that had been her bane since the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in October last year.

(“I’m so happy because all my hard work and sacrifices were rewarded.”)

“Talaga kailangan na po ng surgery pero gusto ko po talagang mag-laro dito sa SEA Games at makapagbigay ng ginto sa bayan natin,” added the athlete, who was teary-eyed and was hugged by her entire who came over here to just watch her compete, as she crossed the finish line.

(“I knew my injury needed surgery but I wanted to compete in the SEA Games so I could give gold to our country.”)

“Medyo umalalay na lang ako kay Claire dahil sa run dahil alam namin na may injury siya,” said Mangrobang after completing 1-2 finish for the Filipinos in the event and nearly caught up with her teammate in the middle of the 10-kilometer run.

(“I am assisting Claire a little in the run because we knew she was injured.”)

Claire Adorna (R) and Kim Mangrobang (L) show off their medals after a 1-2 finish in the SEA Games women’s triathlon event. Photo by Reuters

Racing under the hot early morning sun, Mangrobang, who prepared for this race at the elite training camp in Rio Maior, Spain, had to be moved on a wheelchair because of near-dehydration once she crossed the finish line.

 “Claire is our Lydia de Vega in triathlon,” noted proud Philippine Olympic Committee chairman and Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco in drawing comparisons with Adorna and the country’s former track sensation. “I am proud that triathlon was able to give our country its first gold medal in the SEA Games.”

“We were very lucky because Adorna’s strength is not the run (because of the injury),” added Carrasco, who anxiously watched both girls battle it out from start to finish on the course just an car-drive away from the Changi International Airport.

(READ: SEA Games opening ceremony host sorry for ‘insensitive’ comment)

What is even remarkable was the fact that Adorna, the best Southeast Asian finisher in the Incheon Asian Games triathlon last October when she placed seventh in the event, took the longer route in the initial 1.5-kim swimming leg and still wound up on to with the best split time of 19:20.

She virtually wrapped the gold up in the 40-km. bike leg with a fast 1:24.34 clocking, erecting a formidable four-minute gap between herself and Mangroban, who timed 1:28.86  at that stage.

Quite pleased with his handiwork with Adorna was Dr. Martin Camara, a chiropractor of the PH medical team and an triathlete himself, who was also there to congratulate the Filipina bet.

“What we did with her was strengthen the ‘kinetic chain’ or the muscles around her injury like the hips, muscles and back to ease the pain of her injury,” Camara noted. “Still she was brave to perform despite of it all since it will really require surgery.”

Adorna and Mangrobang will hardly have time  relax since they are scheduled to compete in the Asian Triathlon Championships in Taiwan on June 14.

“After this, I will have my operation since we will have no major races after the Asian championships,” Adorna said.

Inspired by their female teammates’ performance, the men’s squad of Niko Huelgas and Jonard Saim vowed to also make a 1-2 finish when they swing into action at the same course at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 7.  

“I think it will be harder compared to the women, but I believe we can do it,” said men’s head coach George Vilog, who took the silver in the men triathlon when the sport was last held in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games. –

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