Monday, July 26, 2010

Fil-Aussie speedster rules unity bike race

April Effinger pulls off a surprise win over veteran Maritess Bitbit. (Photo by ALI VICOY)
April Effinger pulls off a surprise win over veteran Maritess Bitbit. (Photo by ALI VICOY)
Fil-Australian April Effinger should have been seeing action in the prestigious Australian International Sprint Invitational in Melbourne over the weekend.
But Effinger, daughter of an indigenous Filipina from Baguio and an Australian father, declined the invitation so she could fly to the country and vie for a slot in the Philippine cycling team to the Asian Games.
Facing little opposition, Effinger topped the women’s 500-meter individual time trial event of the Koten Unification Races National Qualifying tournament at the Amoranto Velodrome in Quezon City to assure herself of a slot in the RP Asian Games team.
Effinger is no stranger to competing for the country. She saw action for the RP team in the 2007 Thailand Southeast Asian Games and when the opportunity to race for her mother’s country rose again, she grabbed the chance.
She dominated the race, finishing in 40.06 seconds, easily beating perennial national team rider Maritess Bitbit (41.31) came in second and former triathlete Annalisa Dysangco (44.31) third.
"I think this event is very important for Philippine cycling. For a long time now, there hasn't been a team at all. So it's really sad to go to a competition without a (legitimate) team," said Effinger, 25, referring to the leadership controversy that cost the country its participation in the last SEA Games.
"So I knew I had to turn up here to be part of this momentous moment, and I'm really excited for the Asian Games," said Effinger, the 2003 Australian sprint champion whose mother, Agnes, is from Baguio.
In the men's 1-kilometer ITT, Nilo Estayo topped the event in one minute and 14.82 seconds despite coming off a two-year hiatus.
Estayo, 34, was followed by Ronald Gorrantes (1:16.17) and George Oconer (1:16.31), who also qualified in the ITT team.
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