All heart: PH triathlete finishes ‘strong’ in Nanjing YOG

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It was the second of 3 events – cycling – and Vicky Deldio was only two minutes ahead of the leading pack. If the leading athletes took over her in the race, she would be stopped from finishing the event.

Deldio could’ve quit. She could’ve stopped cycling since she knew she had very little chance of winning.

But instead, she continued. Using the last remaining energy in her body, she pedaled until she finished the lap and moved to the next round.

“I just really wanted to finish the race. I did my best. I tried to cut the lead because I didn’t want to be eliminated. But I guess it was not enough to win a place,” said the teary-eyed Deldio in Filipino.

The 16-year-old finished 32nd out of the 32 competitors in the Triathlon event of the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) on Sunday, August 17. But when she reached the finish line, she was welcomed like the champion.

Coaches and athletes of other competing countries cheered and welcomed the teary Deldio like a hero.

“I wanted to quit when I saw that I was so far behind. Even if my legs were already aching, I just pushed myself just to finish strong,” Deldio said.

‘All heart’

Deldio’s coach, Anthony Lozada, saw the young Olympian’s passion during the event. He said it was more than what Deldio showed during their training.

“It’s easy to train the body but you can never train the heart. Vicky poured her heart out today and we should all be proud of her,” Lozada said.

He added: “The race actually went according to how we wanted it based on her personal best and what she can accomplish. We really have no regrets.”

Australia’s Brittany Dutton won the gold medal finishing in 59:56 hours. Deldio finished at 1:14.

“The field was so strong that we needed a miracle to improve by 5 or 10 minutes. It was an impossible task,” Lozada added.

Triathlon is an Olympic event involving the continuous and sequential completion of 3 sports – swimming, cycling, and running. Triathletes compete for the fastest time.

“When you’re 3 minutes behind the leading athletes, normally you would lose heart. But she kept on going and going. She finished the race for the country,” Lozada said.

Deldio competed in the YOG after a top-5 finish in the qualifiers held in Burabay, Kazakhstan in June 2014.

‘A true Olympian’

Deldio said all she wanted in the YOG was to win a medal for the Philippines.

“I wanted to be at least in the top 15 but I didn’t make it. Still, I’m happy with my performance and that I was able to represent the Philippines in this event. I hope I was able to make my country proud,” she added.

For Lozada, the young athlete’s performance was already a big reward.

“I am proud because I know that my athlete has the heart for the sport. It’s not about winning all the time. The more important thing is that she finished the race. She’s a true Olympian,” he said.

Philippine Chef de Mission Jonne Go also said Deldio showed a real fighting spirit and that her experience is more valuable than any medal.

“I don’t really care if she finished last. What’s important is the experience of competing in an international event. She’s already the best in the Philippines and all she has to do is to improve her personal bests,” Go said.

The future of Triathlon

Deldio said this is not the end but the a new beginning of her triathlon journey.

“I will continue this sport until I become the best. I’ve been doing sports since I was a kid. This is what I love doing,” she said.

The young Olympian is currently an athletic scholar in the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Asked what she would say to other young athletes hoping to make it in the international arena, Deldio said: “Always find a balance between academics and sports. Always give your best to what you’re doing.”

By : David Lozada, Rappler.Com

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