SportsNikko Huelgas, National Triathlete
Nikko Huelgas, National Triathlete
November 29, 2011
November 29, 2011

Green Tanker and national triathlon record holder Nikko Huelgas nabbed the seventh over-all spot in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Asian Championships Elite 23-Under category, held last Sept. 23 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Fresh from a 7-day ITU Elite U23 training camp in Jeju, South Korea, 20-year old Huelgas is already eyeing the road to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Triathlon is unpopular in the Philippines because it is only for a few people – the “age-groupers,” and the multisport community.

It is not marketed to everyone since first, it is not a spectator sport where one could sit and watch the race live, and feel the adrenaline that the athletes feel.

Second, aspiring athletes would rather do one sport than three sports, at a young age. Even I would not get into this tough sport at a young age, but good thing someone influenced me to do so. Currently, triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, especially the Long Distance races like the Ironman and a half and Ironman 70.3.

I decided to focus on Triathlon because it is one of the sports that gave me the chance to get into the National team, which is my ultimate dream since 2nd year high school. In addition, I have a talent for enduring pain over a long period of time, and triathlon pretty much requires that.

I prepared for the 2011 ITU Asian Cup by having proper sleep, a minimum of seven hours a day, if not, I take a nap during the afternoon. I maintained a proper diet of fruits and vegetables, and trained twice every day.

I feel pressured; pressures are what I eat for breakfast. You get used to it, but remember, “To be pressured is a privilege,” as John Paul Gomez says. You just have to think of what you need to do, and everything else will follow.

I got 7th over-all in the ITU Asian Championships in Taipei, Taiwan in the Elite 23-Under category last September. I did my best at that race, and I am really happy to get that ranking.

The best part in winning an international race is that you realize that the Lord chose you for a purpose, a great purpose that would benefit not only yourself, but your country. You get to feel the satisfaction, and the fruits of the hardwork you spent in training.

Recently, I came from Jeju, Korea for a one-week training camp to learn new skills, techniques and other new information on how I could become  faster.

My ITU international races are done for this year. There are still plenty to come next year. For now, I might join local fun runs; maybe the Animo run and the National duathlon open on Nov. 19, just to keep a goal and maintain my fitness. Goals wake me up in the morning, and drive me to pursue excellence.

For my upcoming international races, I will focus on swimming and running since those are key factors in getting good results in ITU Olympic/Standard Distance draft -legal races. Proper diet and sleep are mandatory.

Expect to downgrade your social life temporarily for those races because one must sacrifice to achieve a goal, and that is not easy to do especially if you are studying full time in a prestigious university like DLSU, majoring in Commerce, which requires a high standard of commitment to education.

All these started with a dream. Everyday is a journey in reaching a goal; the journey should remind you that values matter. Character will get you there, not luck.

To be considered a remarkable athlete, one must inspire people through the sport they are into. In addition, they need to have the utmost discipline. Remarkable athletes are those who prioritize sports, and know when to say no to temptations, and of course, excel in the specific sport that they are into.

What are my future plans? I will definitely try to graduate by June 2013, and then go professional to get more ITU points for Olympic/World rankings, and qualify for the Olympics.

I have found the sport that gave me my dream,  the National Team, traveling abroad, and to be exposed to new people who are into the same sport as I am.

If ever I retire from this intense and demanding sport, I might just do leisure running, since it is the least expensive and fastest calorie-burning activity, and focus on my future career.

Anybody can try triathalon. It is a sport that does not demand a special skill or talent. It just demands intense discipline, passion and commitment. If you do not have these attributes, you will not finish a triathlon race.