TRIATHLETE Kimbeley Yap proved a point to her detractors by successfully defending her SEA Games title in Pattaya yesterday.
She won the 1.5km swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running event in 2'12:14, two minutes faster than her winning time in Manila two years ago. The Philippines’ Alessandra Araullo and Lucas Maria Melliza Gayle took the silver and bronze respectively in 2'13:35 and 2'13:56.
Yesterday, the 22-year-old Kimbeley was aware that she needed to put in the extra efforts to ward off the challenges of her rivals.
“I knew that I will be the first out of the water but I had to work hard on the bike and in running to keep my overall lead,” said the former national swimmer, who won two SEA Games bronze medals as part of the relay team in 1999 and 2001.
Kimbeley sought professional help to improve on her time-trial skills on the bike and it benefited her yesterday.
She was first out of the water and had a one-minute lead over her nearest rival. Her times in cycling and running were slower than the two Filipinos but they were good enough to take her first across the finish line.
“Its a relief that I got home first.
“There was a lot of pressure on me to win again. It was not so easy for me to handle it when some people told me that my win at the last Games was a fluke. But it fired me up and I am really happy to win it in a better time,” she said.
Having emerged as the regions champion twice, Kimbeley is looking at featuring in the Olympics. But she will find it difficult to make it to Beijing next year.
“My goal is to work towards getting to the 2012 London Olympics because I don't think I will get enough world ranking points to get to Beijing.
“I have not done as many international races as the others, she said.
“I'm aware that there is a chance to get a wild card for Beijing but I hope to make it on my own. It's more gratifying.”
Following her success yesterday, Kimbeley left Pattaya for Korat to lend support to her younger half-brother Daniel Bego in the swimming competition.
In the men's triathlon race, Malaysia's Mohd Razani Husain and Wei Kuo Hau finished fourth (2'12:23) and fifth (2'13:03) respectively.
Singapore's Mok Wing Ren took gold in 2'05:08.