With one month to go before enlisting into the army, Cedric Chua just wanted to leave his mark to put himself in consideration for the 2019 SEA Games.

And left his mark he did. In his third crack at the standard distance in the Trifactor Triathlon held at East Coast Park on Sunday morning, Chua emerged the national champion and finished second in the elite category behind Filipino John Leerams Chicano, the 2017 SEA Games silver medalist.

“I’ve never raced a standard distance this well,” said Chua, 19. “I gave myself little things to (think about to stay in the zone, so I managed to stay focused throughout the two hours.”

John Leerams Chicano of the Philippines is the first elite male to cross the line for the standard distance at the Tri-Factor Triathlon. (Jing Zhi Chua)


Notable names that Chua beat include 2015 SEA Games bronze medalist Wille Loo, last year’s Trifactor champion Zacharias Low and Malaysian Ryan Tan, who will be competing at the Asian Games against Chicano. Chicano, along with other Asian Games-bound Filipino triathletes such as SEA Games champions Nikko Huelgas and Claire Adorna, has spent the past three weeks at their second training camp of the year in Johor Bahru’s EduCity Sports Complex.

“I just wanted to have fun today,” said Chicano, who wrapped up a busy weekend with a 10km road race yesterday before hopping across the Causeway to squeeze in the Trifactor race.

The 27-year-old described his pre-Games preparation as good and the team is gunning for the top five spots in Asia against the likes of China, Hong Kong, and Japan.

Juan Carlos Abad of the Philippines getting in a stunt in his finish line celebratory pose. He won the sprint elite category at the Tri-Factor Triathlon. (Jing Zhi Chua)

While Chua was getting in his final pre-enlistment race, the Team Singapore flag presentation ceremony for the Asian Games was taking place at the Padang to send off the nation’s largest Asian Games contingent of 265 athletes. Singapore is the only SEA nation unrepresented at the Asian Games in the triathlon, which also held true at the Commonwealth Games earlier in April.

“If SNOC (Singapore National Olympic Council) wants to set their standards like that and we don’t meet it, then I guess too bad, we just have to work harder,” said Chua. The criterion to represent Singapore at major Games is based on the bronze medal mark or the sixth-place mark, depending on the level of the competition.

“It’s not wrong, but it just makes everything tougher.”

Thus, the only time Chua gets to race top-tier regional competitors such as Chicano is at the continental cups. While the continental cups are good for athletes seeking to gain racing exposure against regional competitors, it lacks the feel of representing more than oneself.

Philippines junior Juan Carlos Abad also topped the podium in the sprint category ahead of Singaporean elite juniors Nicholas Rachmadi and Luke Chua. Phoebe Kee participated in her first standard distance race and overcame cramps in the first half of the run leg to be the first female overall to cross the line.

Juan Carlos Abad congratulates Nicholas Rachmadi at the finish line. They finished 1st and 2nd respectively in the sprint category. (Jing Zhi Chua)