Businessman, MMA fighter try luck in Ironman

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

JOSE “Sangkoy” Ontanillas and Dino Tormis have carved their niches in their businesses and their own sports. One is an architect and a cyclist, the other a businessman and an MMA fighter. Both are about to embark on the toughest day of their lives.

Both are financially capable of getting into an expensive sport such as triathlon. Both are physically capable of demanding physical challenges.

Yes, there are physical challenges that one can easily overcome and there things one can easily purchase, but to be officially called an Ironman 70.3 finisher, is something one has to earn. And that is what they are about to do today along with hundreds of other first-timers.


Ontanillas and Tormis are a new breed of dreamers. From zero experience in triathlon, they decided to plunge into it. And while they may have different motivations for joining, both have the same thing in mind in their first attempt: to finish strong.

The Architect

As soon as registration for the Cobra Ironman 70.3 opened, Ontanillas was on his computer clicking away hoping to get one of the 2,000 slots in the country’s toughest triathlon event. Those slots were sold out in four hours.

Ontanillas, an architect who had just gotten married, decided to join despite not having any triathlon background.

He is learned in all things cycling, having biked for as long as he can remember and for having owned a bike shop a few years back. But triathlon to him is a whole new different world.

He joined, he said, because a lot of his friends are transitioning to triathlon so he thought, “Why not give it a try?”

“When I signed up, I knew I had a lot of work to do and I made a silent deal with myself that I will give it my 101 percent,” said Ontanillas.
His first real taste of a triathlon was the Bogo 8080 in April, after a serious training that only started in January.

“It was such a rush. The swim part kind of surprised me but when I finished that race, it was very fulfilling. I heard triathlon is a lot of fun, and that race proves that it is. I could just imagine what the Ironman has in store for me,” said the cyclist who rode 100 kilometers in a three-day race in Subic.

“Triathlon will not be like cycling because it involves three disciplines. I know what to expect and I have given it my everything in training. I have sacrificed a lot, my family has sacrificed a lot and the race day, will be the graduation, not just for me but for everyone who trained an entire year to prepare for this event,” said Ontanillas.

And while he is at it, Ontanillas wants nothing more than finish the race.

“It it is no joke to train. I tell myself that while I still have the will to finish it then go for it and finish this. Otherwise, bisan maabtan ka sa tapol and kapoy,” he added.

Ontanillas said his body is ready for what awaits him, confident that his preparation is enough, what he is praying for are occurrences that are beyond his control: cramps and technical difficulties.

“I have prayed that I will not have cramps and I will not have flat tires. Physically, I am ready. During the race, if the body gets tired, you slow down. But these two are things I absolutely have no control over and I pray I never get those,” he said.

Octagon fighter

For mixed-martial arts (MMA) practitioner Dino Tormis, triathlon is just another form of psychical fitness. He starting joining triathlon races in October last year.

“Ironman 70.3 is the biggest event in triathlon in the country. My goal really is just to try the distance and just finish race,” said Tormis, whose target is to cross the finish line in 7 hours.

Tormis has been an MMA practitioner for quite a long time, in fact, he owns an octagon ring and is a part of Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) as the PXC promoter here in Cebu. His love for combat sport started when he was in his elementary years, he was into boxing, taekwondo, and karate. He also learned Jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and muaythai, and was active in Yaw-Yan Ardigma in the early 2000’s. His interest in the MMA grew further when he stayed in the US for seven years from 1995 to 2002, when he worked as a mechanic.

“Mixed martial arts and triathlon have something in common since they both have multiple disciplines. MMA is a contact sport and you have to go with the offense and defense of your opponent, while triathlon it is all about your pacing and your time,” he said.

“Ang MMA kay sakit gyud samot na taas na ta’g edad. Pero I still practice MMA at home as an exercise,” Tormis said.

Since October, last year, he joined six triathlon races and even won in the 45-49 age group. His first race was Hunat Sugbo goes to Oslob, followed by Tri team championships in Dalaguate, Sipalay Triathlon, Tri team championships in Bantayan Island, Bogo 8080 where he placed first in the 45-49 age group and Tabuelan 111.

“My family understands my training, especially my two kids who are 20 and 17, because they have their own activities as well. The 5-year-old is the one who is looking for me always. Me and my 17 year-old-son have our bonding time when we train in martial arts because he does Muay Thai and kick-boxing. My 20-year-old daughter is also a blue belt in taekwondo, while my little girl is into ballet,” said Tormis. (MCB/With RSC)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 03, 2014.


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