ATHLETES cheered as a Japanese participant of a triathlon competition, who was reported missing for around two hours, was found safe and sound on Saturday morning, September 1.
Rynji Ishikawa, a Japanese who participated in the 40-KM-bike race organized by the Belau Triathlon Federation (BTF), had raised alarm among organizers after he failed to show up at the 40-km post on expected time.
BTF Vice President Paul Zipagan told Island Times that while he was standing by at the 40-Km post to watch over participants, he started to get worried after seeing all the participants of the event already passed by the site except Ishikawa.
“I was [starting to get suspicious] already why he (Ishikawa) did not pass the 40-km [post],” Zipagan said, adding that he expected Ishikawa to pass by the site at around 8:30am.
Ishikawa, who was participating in the 40-km bike race, was supposed to take the trail from KB Bridge – Koror side to Ngarchelong and back.
Zipagan’s team, with the assistance of the US Air Force Civic Action Team (CAT), had immediately took action by driving along the trail to look for Ishikawa. Failure to spot Ishikawa a couple of times after passing by the cycle trail had prompted organizers to contact the police for assistance.
The organizer said that they had coordinated with the police for the conduct of the event. However, the responding police officer, according to the organizer, told them that the officers who were deployed at the beginning of the event to provide security assistance did not relay or inform about the task to the next batch of officers that took over the shift.
Island Times contacted the Bureau of Public Safety Director Alloysius Alonz for their statement on the incident but has not received any reply yet as of press time.
After almost two hours of search, the US Air Force Civic Action Team (CAT) headed by Officer-in-Charge 2nd Lt. Colin Quitta spotted Ishikawa, unscathed, along Ngaremlengui road. It was found that the tire of Ishikawa’s bike went flat, hence, making him unable to cycle to the finish line.
BTF Vice President Zipagan said that Ishikawa had gone out of the trail to look for a vulcanizing shop and that was when the CAT spotted him walking with his bike and brought him back safely to the finish line at the KB-Bridge – Koror side.
When Ishikawa reached the KB-Bridge – Koror side where his fellow participants were waiting, cheers and applaud welcomed him as everyone expressed their relief.
Zipagan said that they are thankful that nothing bad happened to the participants as it is “a big responsibility from the Federation if something happened.” (Rhealyn C. Pojas)