Triathlon chief Tom Carrasco upbeat team can produce 4 to 6 gold medals in SEA Games

FOUR to six gold medals.

That’s the target of the Pinoy triathletes competing in the coming Southeast Asian Games and Triathlon Association of the Philippines chief Tom Carrasco is upbeat his wards can get the job done.

“Four out of six,” Carrasco told FOX Sports Philippines in an exclusive interview. “If we’re going to be ambitious, six out of six.”

Carraso, also the executive director of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), remains confident despite the fact that one of his top bets,  two-time SEA Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas, will not be competing for the Pinoy triathletes.

Huelgas asked himself to be taken out even though Carrasco’s group is still mulling the possibility of including him in the mixed relay.

According to Carrasco, Huelgas wasn’t able to meet the requirement after failing to compete in a qualifying event and missed the podium of another major international event, which serves as a qualifier for the biennial meet.

“Yung una naming race, yung Subic International as qualifier, hindi siya nag-attend. He was in Europe, I think he attended the conference or seminar,” added Carrasco.

According to Carrasco, Huelgas’ active involvement as head of the athletes’ commission of the POC has visibly affected his training as an athlete. Although the experience is good for Huelgas for his future endeavors, the involvement took a toll on him as a competitor in triathlon and the decline in the performance has been noticeable.

“Naapektuhan kasi yung kanyang training nung kanyang pagiging chairman ng athletes commission ng POC. May mga duties yun eh. You have to attend IOC, OK naman sa experience niya, kasi he was able to go to the Olympic Center.  But that’s affecting his training, tapos yun nga hindi siya naka-attend sa Subic,” said Carrasco.

“Yung second qualifying, which is the Asian Championship, number five siya or six among Filipinos. Hindi pa rin maganda. Yung consistent na dalawang nananalo, si (John) Chicano tsaka si (Andrew) Remolino.”

Chicano may be the country’s top bet in the SEA Games, but the promising Remolino had shown tremendous progress lately and Carraso is pinning his hopes on the young Cebuano triathlete.

“Remolino is a high potential boy, only 19 years old pa lang yun. Tinalo niya si Huelgas. Talagang lumangoy yun ng below 20 minutes yun sa 1,500 meters sa individuals,” said Carrasco.

Carrasco didn’t close the doors on Huelgas until the final submission of the line up, but the athlete himself begged off on the opportunity of competing in the mixed relay.

“Sabi namin kay Huelgas, baka isama namin siya sa mixed team relay. Naka-calendar na yun. Pinagpilian namin na kasama ni Chicano si (Fernando) Casares, Fil-Spanish, na nag-iimprove naman tapos si Nikko. Dalawa lang yun, you can decide one day before the mixed team relay,” said Carrasco.

“Suddenly, he texted me, saying he’ll beg off and pagbibigan niya yung mga bata — up and coming. I said I will respect your decision. Nung submission na ng final line up, tinanggal ko na siya.”

With its stiffest competitor, Indonesia, not able to send its squad to the SEA Games triathlon event, Carrasco believes the Philippines can dominate the field.

“Ngayon, lyamado kami. Lalo hindi pumasok Indonesia. Nagmamakaawa nga eh (Indonesia). I told them, If I say yes to you, all the other countries will come on to me. Ingat na ingat ako doon sa sasabihin nung iba,” said Carrasco.

“Yung Indonesia,  mayroon silang magaling na lalaki. Pero tinalo yun ni Chicano. Nung tinalo naman nung Indonesian si Nikko last year (Asian Games), may violation si Nikko noon ng one minute.
Lagi naman sa SEA Games, dalawa lang events and we were able to dominate it.”

Aside from Chicano and Remolino, the Pinoy triathletes will also bank on Kim Mangrobang, the country’s best bet in the women’s division.

Mangrobang has been traveling in different parts of the world competing against the best.

Photo from Kim Mangrobang’s Facebook