Eye on SEA Games medal with launch of duathlon plan

The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA

National triathlete Phoebe Kee has won several local races in recent years, such as the 2017 Tri-Factor Triathlon.

But the 18-year-old believes she is a better fit for the duathlon (run-bike-run) and is keen to make the switch in time to represent Singapore at the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines, where the event will make a comeback since Thailand 2007.

"Running is my strong point; I'm stronger in the run than the swim and I have a better shot at the duathlon," said Kee, who is starting her undergraduate studies in Sydney next month, explaining why she would fare better than in the swim-bike-run race.

She is aiming to be in the Triathlon Association of Singapore's (TAS) national high performance duathlon programme, which will be launched at the Singapore Duathlon National Championship at East Coast Park on Sunday. The qualifying mark for the 10km run, 36km bike ride and 5km run is the 2007 bronze medal times: 2hr 4min for men and 2hr 26min for women.

Athletes, led by technical director Eugene Lee, will have to put in a weekly training load of 20 to 30 hours and undergo frequent fitness assessments.

TAS general manager Eugene Ong told ST he is confident that Singapore can win a duathlon medal.

"Initially our high performance programme did not include the duathlon but, since it's going to be a SEA Games event, we decided to launch this programme to prepare our athletes for it," he added.

Sunday's event will feature some of the Philippines' top athletes, such as 2016 and 2017 men's national champion Jarwyn Banatao, as well as Singapore's 2015 SEA Games men's triathlon bronze medallist Loo Chuan Rong and Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon top local woman Lim Baoying.

Kee, who has been increasing her mileage in the last few months, said: "It's going to be a very exciting race. If I qualify, I will train towards getting a medal at the SEA Games."