On the right track: Promising cyclist Khalil Sanchez piles up titles amid pandemic
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Don’t sleep on 16-year old cyclist Khalil Sanchez of the vaunted Keith DeFiebre Cycling Team p/b Lún Wheels.
The son of multi-titled cyclist Dongkey Sanchez, this promising kid has silently racked up titles in local races in Cebu amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khalil recently logged his 26th title of the year when he emerged the first overall finisher in the Lilangs to Tabla MTB Race in Liloan town, northern Cebu.
With that many titles under his belt, it may seem Sanchez is having an easy time winning races.
But he isn’t.
In an interview with CDN Digital, Sanchez said that competing in races under the new normal has its challenges, given the health and safety protocols needed to be followed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lahi ra gyud sa normal life nato sa una nga wala pa ning pandemic. Di ta kailangan mag mask, makaginhawa pa tag tarong labi na kung mag bike,” said Sanchez.
(It’s really different compared to when it was all normal and the pandemic wasn’t here yet. We didn’t have to wear masks before, which made it easier for us to breathe, especially when we bike.)
Some of the notable races in Cebu that Sanchez dominated were the Race Against Drugs and COVID-19 legs two and three in Danao City, Uban ta Bai’ke in Cordova, Paugnat sa Kusog ni Grant in Daan Bantayan, Kap Clyde Seblos Race in Balamban, Catmon Enduro, Mariano Martinez MTB Cup, 2021 Astro XC Challenge, 2021 Xtreme MTB Challenge, and the Sikad Santa Fe.
The most difficult race he joined was the 2021 Philippine National MTB Cross Country in Danao City last June. He finished 10th in the race that was stacked with elite cyclists.
“I was so pressured that time kay naka kontra kog mga cyclista nga taga laing lugar,” added Sanchez.
(I was so pressured that time because I was going up against cyclists from other places.)
The humbling experience motivated him to do better. After that, Sanchez bounced back stronger to win more local races.
His ultimate goal is to compete abroad and represent the country in international races someday. In the meantime, Sanchez aims to add more titles before the year ends.
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