“ALL children posess ability and this ability can be developed and enhanced through a nurturing environment,” said coach and mother Milette Chiongbian, quoting the principles of the Suzuki Method of training young athletes.

Chiongbian, the mother of two successful young triathletes, Justin and Yuan, shared the secret to raising successful triathletes in the Cebu Orthopaedic Institute (COI)’s one-day symposium “Triathlon: Optimizing Training and Skills.”

Triathlon’s popularity nowadays not only hit adults in Cebu but kids as young as four years old as well. The interest to get into the sport was sparked when organizers started opening age groups.

In less than a year since they started, the Chiongbian brothers became members of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (Trap) developmental team. Justin, the older of the two, became Cebu’s top bet for the PHL slot to represent the country in next year’s Asian Youth Olympics Qualifiers.

According to Millete, the secret to their son’s fast progress is the support they have given their kids.

Millete said they have always been there for them since the first day. For her, it is an essential duty for them to deliver to them that level of support that they can afford and commit. For her, a strong support group and collective orientation from the family, their school Ateneo de Cebu, the boys’ Magis Swim varsity, the learning from summer camp, are significant factors in her kids’ achievements.

“My husband Fredric and I have been supportive of them. There is no reason not to,” Millete said. The couple used to run and do triathlon and the kids have grown up seeing their parents train and compete.

“Today, both are official members of the Philippine national developmental pool and proudly, each has ITU Asian championship titles. This progress is attained, I believe, because they have come to love the sport so much and because we have been there to commit to their activity,” she said.

Millete also puts importance on the kids’ education. The boys study in Ateneo de Cebu, which, luckily, has a strong sports program that supports athletes. “Managing the athletic activities and schoolwork and balancing both is a priority,” she said.

She also discussed the pros and cons of getting sponsorships and that the kids should be made to uderstand what it is about and they should be part of the decision whether or not they should accept the offer.

She also reminded parents about the other areas of concern that need attention—nutrition, overseas competing, financial planning, goal-setting, energy and time management, student-athlete management, relationship management and general
health, among others.

But above all else, Milette, more as a mother than a coach, said safety is on top of her concerns.

“A priority in sports is safety. Safety extends beyond simple risks. Safety includes the growth and development issues,” she said.

“A triathlete has to be very fit. Justin and Yuan train all year round. They train no less than twice daily and at a weekly average of 14 to 16 times a week. Because they enjoy training, the intrinsic motivation to work is there,” Millete said.