MANILA, Philippines — Destiny strikes when you least expect it. For triathlon coaches Dan and Ani Brown, true love hit them at an unexpected time, quickly forming into a strong bond forged by a shared love for triathlon and success.
Ani (nee De Leon) first met Dan in Subic, where the latter resided then. It was on November 5, 2010 when they got acquainted through a common friend: Senator Pia Cayetano.
“Ani arranged to do a bike ride in Subic Bay with some of the people she coached, including [Senator Cayetano,]” recalls Dan. “At that time, I was also coaching some [members of the Philippine Triathlon Team] and [Senator Cayetano] invited us to join them.”
The following day, Dan and Ani met at a triathlon event in Olongapo, where they were both coaching their respective teams. While the race was going on, Dan invited Ani to go for a swim across to a nearby island from the race venue during their spare time. Ani obliged, and Dan thought, “This girl’s okay.”
The next morning, Ani participated in a Milo 21k run in Zambales. Afterwards, Dan asked Ani to have breakfast with him. And they started to hit it off. Clearly, the chemistry between them was hard to ignore.
“I thought that Ani has a strong character,” says Dan on his first impression about his wife. “She’s very confident and she has a very kind personality. She’s nice to everyone around her and she looks amazing.”
On Ani’s part, she liked Dan immediately. “He’s friendly but he’s not overly friendly,” she shares. “He’s quite serious. He’s intense about his passion for his work and for triathlon. I liked that about him. And since he’s Australian, he also knows how to relax and have fun. He’s a professional athlete but he’s not so rigid about it. He can have a beer every now and then. I’m just relaxed around him.”
It also helped that both of them are sports coaches who share the same principles and ideas about triathlon. “We share the same wavelength for coaching,” says Dan.
While they were dating, the Manila-based Ani would visit Dan and vise-versa. “We were engaged a month after we met, on December 11, 2010,” shares Ani.
Yes, it was that fast. For this couple, it was a matter of having a strong gut feeling that his/her partner was “The One,” something that they had not felt before.
“I just knew straight away that it’s going to work,” relates Dan. “Otherwise, if I had a doubt in my mind about it, I wouldn’t go for it to begin with.” Ditto for Ani. “You just know when this kind of thing happens,” she adds.
Their engagement was romantic but not dramatic. It was just an ordinary night, a dinner complemented by wine. when Dan popped the question after their meal. The two had previously talked about getting engaged, but for Ani, it was still a special moment when Dan asked her to marry him.
Interestingly, Ani met Dan when she wasn’t keen on dating anyone. “I had just broken up with somebody a month before I met Dan,” she discloses. “I said to myself that I’m going to take a rest from dating, lie low for a while, and just enjoy being single.”
Ani had her support group, “The Screening Committee,” a group of male triathlete friends who made a bunch of ‘rules’ that any future date or suitor must pass. The rules included the following: He has to be a competitive biker (the moment he is not able to keep up with the bike race, he’s out); and he has to be able to drink a lot of alcoholic beverages such as beer.
“One night, I told my friends that I’ll be bringing Dan over,” says Ani. “Even though I didn’t think that I needed their approval, I still wanted them to meet Dan.” In a nutshell, Dan “passed” the tests and won the respect and friendship of Ani’s friends. “To be honest, they really accepted me and I also liked them. Ani’s close friends have become my close friends as well,” remarks Dan, who credits them for learning more about local etiquette in the Philippines.
On March 5, 2011, Dan and Ani flew to Sydney, Australia. It was Ani’s first time to meet Dan’s family and relatives. “He’s from a really nice family,” says Ani. “They’re very close to each other.” According to Dan, “My family loved Ani. They thought she was good for me.”
The couple hosted a party for Dan’s family in Sydney. In a way, it was their pre-wedding celebration before they tied the knot in the Philippines.
Dan and Ani got married in a simple wedding ceremony in a small Catholic church in Subic on April 16, 2011.
Just as they were embracing newlywed bliss, the couple discovered that they were expecting their first child. As Ani recalls, “It was funny because we were talking about having a baby around January 2011 and we were like, ‘Maybe we’ll have it around the end of the year.’”
The pregnancy came earlier than expected, and Ani suddenly had to turn down some triathlon race commitments, such as a slot for the Timex Global Team. Fortunately, her peers and sponsors understood her situation. “Personally, I also registered for these triathlon events and invested my own money in them,” says Ani, “but it’s a blessing when we found out that I was pregnant. Of course it happened sooner than we expected, but we were still happy.”
The couple welcomed their first born, a baby boy named Dash, on November 29, 2011.
Apart from being newly-minted parents, Dan and Ani are also working together as the newest Sports & Recreation (S&R) Consultants of Pico de Loro Cove, a leisure haven located in Hamilo Coast, SM Land’s “premier coastal development” area in Nasugbu, Batangas.
As S&R Consultants, Dan and Ani are in charge of developing fitness and wellness programs for Pico de Loro’s residents, members and guests. The couple has marathon and triathlon events in the pipeline, as well as regular training sessions for running, among others. They plan to promote Pico de Loro as an ideal destination for sports camps and activities.
As professionals, Dan and Ani feel that they “work well together.” While they always discuss ideas together, Dan and Ani have defined their individual roles when it comes to training people and athletes. Ani will handle trainees from the kids to beginners range, whereas Dan will aid people who qualify for the levels of intermediate and professional.
For couples who work professionally together, Ani says that one has to have a lot of respect for his/her partner. “You cannot always expect to agree with each other,” she says. “Even if we say that Dan and I are very compatible and that we are on the same wavelength most of the time, we have a lot of disagreements as well. Thus, you have to respect your partner’s opinion and consider him/her too.”
It’s the basic rule of give-and-take, with patience on the side. And, as their day jobs can be physically taxing, getting lots of sleep may also help avoid unnecessary stress-induced arguments.
Shot on location at Pico de Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas. Hamilo Coast is under Costa del Hamilo, Inc. (CdHI), a subsidiary of SM Land. For more information, visit www.hamilocoast.com or call (02) 858-03-33.
Ani and I complement each other in a lot of ways. She completes me. She gave me more focus and a more positive outlook in life.
I told Dan and his family that he’s the best thing that happened to me, along with our son Dash. I always tell Dan that one. Dan made my life better.