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Cagayan de Oro’s Neil Catiil sprang a surprise at the 2009 Singapore OSIM International Triathlon last Sunday, beating New Zealand’s Craig Johns for the gold medal in the men’s elite division held at the East Coast Park in Singapore.

The 23-year old Catiil made up for a slow clocking in the 1.5 m swim leg at 26:53 with huge performance in the 40-k bike leg and 10-k run leg to book his first international victory in the men’s elite race.

The Cagayan de Oro bet turned a highly technical bike course that featured humps and sharp turns into a show of his own by submitting a fast time at 1:03.39.

He was still full of energy in the final 10-k run with another 38:11 to submit an accumulated best time in the category at two hours, 8 minutes and 43 seconds.

Johns, who is a noted world class triathlete, came out of the swim leg first with more than three minutes advantage off Catiil. He however faltered in the next stages of the competition to eventually settle for second place, more than four minutes behind the Filipino champion at 2:13:25.

Chong Chi Seak of Macau made it a podium finish as he took the bronze medal with 2:23:17 time.

Catiil first broke into the male elite race in the Asian Beach Games in Bali Indonesia and settled for 18th overall.

He however slowly climbed up the rankings in the last Subic Bay International Triathlon Championships last May by emerging as the country’s top finisher at fifth overall. He spiced his impressive performance by accounting for the best time split in the bike leg among the participants for a bonus prize of US$ 1000.

Kim Marion Mangrobang made it two for two as far as delivering medal for the Philippine contingent is concern as the 18-year old triathlete bagged the bronze medal in the women’s under-23 class.

Mangrobang clocked in at 2:34:01 to claim third place that should serve as a fitting sendoff for her as she joins the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Junior/U23 training camp in Goldcoast, Australia being one of five Asian triathletes selected.

The camp will run from August 28 to September 8.

Austalia’s Ashleigh Gentle who placed second in the 2007 World Junior Championships took the gold with 2:10:35 while teammate Jaimi Chisolm bagged the silver in 2:13:25.

“We are proud of Neil and Kim’s performance because it was the fruit of our high performance training camp. We will continue giving them international exposure with our end goal of a better showing in the 2010 Asian Games,” said Triathlon Association of the Philippines president Tom Carrasco Jr.

The participation of Catiil and Mangrobang along with national coach Melvin Fausto was made possible with the support of SBMA, Philippine Sports Commission and David’s Solon.

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