Ani de Leon is the epitome of dedication to a goal and achieving it. The Philippine record holder of the most grueling of competitions, the Ironman, Ani holds the records in her age group in various local and Asia-Pacific triathlons. Though she’s been competing for 16 years, it was only in February 2008 when she felt that what she had worked so hard for came together: At the Ironman Malaysia, she came in first in the female age 30-34 category. “I was competing as part of a big Philippine contingent, and representing the country always makes me give more of myself. I was crying when I crossed the finish line because I knew I had won,” Ani says. “Even for weeks afterward, I felt such relief and happiness that all my years of dedicating blood, sweat, and tears for the sport were finally rewarded—my win had entitled me a slot in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii” in October 2008. The Ironman Kona is considered the ultimate endurance test consisting of a 3.8-km swim, a 180-km bike race, and a marathon of 42 km. “Staying in one’s comfort zone breeds mediocrity. I’d like to see how far I can go with racing this specific distance for triathlon,” says Ani.
Ani channels her commitment to promoting sports among women and children in her role as program manager of Pinay In Action Women Empowerment through Fitness Program and of the SuperKids Triathlon Youth Development Program of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines. Meeting Ani, it’s difficult not to notice her strong, lean, muscular frame. “My physique is something that takes discipline to maintain, and that in itself is a quiet pronouncement of my character.” We couldn’t agree more.
(First published in Marie Claire, November 2008; Photo by Lilen Uy)