Freeman Cebu Sports

‘Privileged yet pressured’

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Privileged but a bit pressured.

This is how Sunrise Events, Inc. President and CEO Wilfred Steven Uytengsu  Jr. described the Philippines' hosting of the first ever Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships on Asian soil set for August 7 at Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

"Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think we will be here eight years later that we will be having the privilege of holding this event (Asia-Pacific Championships).We are truly privileged at the same time pressured. This is our chance to show how the Philippines do it," said Uytengsu, also the top executive of Alaska Milk Corporation.

In the 30-year history of Ironman and 20 years for the AsPac Championships, it's the first time that the prestigious race will be held outside of Australia.

And Uytengsu assured that the country's staging of the ground-breaking event will be different from the previous editions.

However, when asked if whether the Philippines is ready to host a full distance Ironman, Uytengsu said 'it's not yet time.'

While the training of athletes is there and the support of both the private and government sectors are in place, Uytengsu said the country's infrastructure and road conditions need more improvement.

Uytengsu is hopeful though that President Rodrigo Duterte will address these essential concerns for Philippines to be able to hold a full Ironman.

For her part, SEI General Manager Princess Galura said the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines AsPac Championships is chance for Cebu' to redeem itself from a so-so ratings it got from participants in the past two years.

Way back in 2013, Cebu garnered the highest rating of 97.6 percent that eventually paved the way for the Philippine edition of the prestigious triathlon race be known as the 'Crown Jewel' of Asia.

Galura said that even if it was still a memorable experience for most of the entries during the past two years, Cebu's ratings went down to as low as 82 percent in 2014, largely due to bad road conditions that resulted to several accidents in the 90-kilometer bike portion of the three-in-one race.

Although it went up slightly higher last year, Cebu's hosting was overshadowed by Subic that was ranked sixth, an even higher rating than that of the Asia-Pacific Championship itself.

"We are rated low in road quality of the bike course. Remember, it's in the bike they spend most of their time," said Galura.

With such feedback, the attention of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-7 officials has been called. Since then, they have been very cooperative and supportive.

Cebu Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino, who represented re-elected governor Hilario Davide III in yesterday's formal launching of the event at Shari-La's Global City in Taguig, said DPWH regional director Ador Canlas had assured the participants of a safer and better roads when they race next month.

Tolentino also mentioned the full cooperation of all LGUs and other parties involved.

"With all slots taken in just a matter of 28 minutes by about 2,900 participants, it inspires us to better our hosting and make everyone’s stay in Lapu-Lapu worry-free.  As one aims to get their individual target out of this race, we also aim to make your stay more memorable, not only for the first timers, but even to those who have been with us before," said Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza.  (FREEMAN)



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