MANILA – Like any ordinary kid at his age, Brent Valelo loves to play but he did it the hard way through sports.

At the age of 8, Valelo started to swim and two years later, he found himself on top of the winners podium to receive not one but two gold medals and two bronzes right in his first swimming competition.

Valelo piled up more gold medals not only as a swimmer but as aquathlon athlete, prompting the organizers of the Alaska IronKids to choose him as one of their commercial models.

In the 2011 Alaska Aquathlon, Valelo settled for bronze medal and the following year, he fished out the gold medal and two silvers, including one he won in the 2012 Alaska IronKids Triathlon in Cebu.

”It was my happiest moment when I won second place in Cebu IronKids,” he said.

Valelo’s young career as triathlete was without heartbreaking moment. While training for an upcoming event, his road bike was snatched from him.

”That was the saddest part of my sport career. I was just a kid then and I’m not that strong to fight the bad guys,” he said.

This traumatic experience though has not dampened his spirit from pursuing his dream to become a successful triathlete not only here but abroad.

”My dream really is to become an elite athlete and to be able to join international competitions and win it big abroad,” he said.

Valelo has proven his worth as the country’s future triathlete as he retained his Alaska IronKids Triathlon titles for the last three years.

In 2015, Valelo also emerged victorious in the Cebu leg of the Batang Pinoy both in the triathlon and duathlon events.

He also won the first place of the Mini Sprint under 13-15 age group of the Asian Triathlon Cup held in Dungaree Beach in Subic in April last year.

Hard work and determination have paid off for Valelo as the 15-year-old triathlete made it to the national team only last month.

”I’m excited to be part of the national team. I will do my best to make it big in the international arena,” said the eldest of the two sons of Jessie and Sherryl Valelo, both sports enthusiasts like Brent’s grandmother Luz who was a table tennis national champion.

Valelo is now preparing for two upcoming events – the Philippine National Games (PNG) on Feb. 21 in Subic and the National Capital Region’s (NCR) elimination for the 2016 Palarong Pambansa in Naga City in April.

”These are two important tournaments for me since this is my first PNG and I’m hoping also to make it in the Palarong Pambansa,” he said.

After placing fourth in the NCR leg, Valelo is now ready to hopefully win the gold that would qualify him for the first time to the Palarong Pambansa in the 5,000-meter run event. He is also set to compete in the 1,500m run.

The PNG, on the other hand, will serve as the first acid test for him as new member of the national triathlon team.

To further hone his skills and endurance as triathlete, Valelo has been training once a day during school days and up to three times a day during weekends and off school days.

The youthful Valelo knows that it takes a lot of sacrifices to be a good swimmer, runner and cyclist before making it big in the world of triathlon.

And he is in the right direction with all the full support he is enjoying from his family. PNA/