It was a gruelling fight to the end on a searing hot day for Irene Chong See Win to secure the bronze medal for Malaysia in Triathlon at the 29th SEA Games in Putrajaya, Malaysia
Filipino triathletes Marion Kim Mangrobang won the race alongside teammate Claire Adorna who were a class above the rest and defended the gold and silver medals for their home country. Mangrobang finished the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run in 2 hours 11 minutes and 14 minutes while Adorna came in seven minutes later. The swim started in the Putrajaya Lake with fans cheering from the grandstand while the cycling leg led the triathletes around the Putrajaya International Convention Center (PICC), ending with a 4-loop 10km run around the Water Sports Complex and sprinting to the finish line in front of the grandstand.
The Filipino women were first out of the water and led throughout the race, kept pushing the pace to increase the gap on their rivals. The chase pack of Irene and Zoe simply could not bridge the gap and kept pushing for the bronze medal.
Malaysia’s home favourite, Irene collapsed in sheer fatigue across the finish line, and came back to greet her supporters with tears in eyes. Not a single person in the crowd could keep a dry eye and they glowed with pride and joy for the historic bronze medal in Triathlon. Malaysian women have not won any medals in Triathlon since Kimbeley Yap won two golds in successive SEA Games since 2005 and 2007.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without her motivation along the way. We did our best, no regrets. Who won the medal was not important,” Irene thanked her teammate Zoe Natasha Bowden for motivation during the race.
Irene secured third place in 2 hours 25 minutes and 44 seconds while compatriot Zoe Bowden finished fifth in two hours 30 minutes and 5 seconds.
Once again, Philippines proved dominant in Triathlon at the 2017 SEA Games, with Nikko Bryan Huelgas and compatriot John Chicano winning gold and silver in Putrajaya.
Huelgas defended his gold medal from the previous edition in 1 hour 59 minutes and 30 seconds while Chicano followed through two minutes later. Singaporean Clement Chow completed the podium two minutes later.
Kritsanaphon Phonphai from Thailand was the first out of the water after the 1.5km swim with Huelgas hot on his tail and Huelgas soon took over the lead in the 40km cycling leg and 10km run and never surrendered it till the end.
Malaysian triathletes Ryan Tan Qai Shen and ex-Silver medallist Rikigoro Shinozuka could not catch up to the pack after trailing from the swim, and finished in seventh and eighth place respectively. 18-year old Ryan Tan were among the youngest triathletes, and he made a sterling debut for a young newcomer to the regional race.
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