MetaSprint Aquathlon Race Results and Race Report

MetaSprint Aquathlon Race Results and Race Report

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MetaSprint Series Aquathlon 2014

<Sweet success for 16-year-old champ Chong at Sentosa>

Words by Alan Grant

Teenage sensation Bryce Chong proved the old adage “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough” as he put in a dominating wire-to-wire performance to easily win the New Moon KhCycle MetaSprint Series Aquathlon on Sunday, February 16 at Sentosa. In the women’s race Kathryn Haesner overcame a swim start stumble to claim the title with a strong run giving her a comfortable triumph.

As has been the case in recent years at the Aquathlon, the 1,500 plus competitors assembled at Palawan Beach were greeted with a scorcher of a day and a pancake flat sea. The water was soon turned into a churning mess when the elite athletes kicked things off at 8:30am. Comprising of just a 750-metre swim followed by 5km run, the pace was all out from start to finish.

Chong showed his intentions early, exiting the water first at the mid-point of the spectator-friendly M-shaped swim course, before stretching his lead over the last 375 metres to hit the beach in a time of 10 minutes dead. The 16-year-old didn’t let up once on dry land and zoomed through T1 and onto the run course almost before his closest rivals, Rick Atkinson and Rikigoro Shinozuka, had even entered the transition area.

Chong went hard early in the run, doubling the 30-second lead he had out of the water by the 1km mark of the run, and from there ran out an easy winner.

The race for the minor podium places was just getting started, though. Atkinson and Shinozuka matched each other stride for stride over the first 2km but Tim Kelsall, who had exited the water a minute behind the pair, was rapidly eating into the duo’s lead. As Atkinson began to falter, Kelsall increased his pace and with about 2km to go passed Shinozuka and looked set to clinch the runner’s up spot.

But James Middleditch had other ideas. A relatively poor swim of 12:36 had left the man known as “Kona James” with a mountain to climb, but the 46-year-old likes a challenge and he looked like a man possessed on the course as he swept up athlete after athlete. His effort was rewarded as he caught and passed Kelsall in the closing stages but Chong was a target too far. Indeed, the youngster won easing up in a total time of 29:35, his winning margin over Middleditch just over a minute, with Kelsall a further seven seconds back in third. Middleditch, incidentally, ran an incredible 16:47 for the 5km.

“It was a hot race, but all I was thinking was just go for it, go hard, and just have fun,” an obviously delighted Chong said immediately after crossing the line.

With the confidence of youth Chong admitted he thought he might win pre-race “but it was important not to be complacent. Race hard, don’t care who is behind you, just do it,” he said.

Chong will be overseas for the next leg of the series, the Sprint Duathlon on March 16 but will return for the concluding Sprint Triathlon on April 13. With the overall series winner decided on an athlete’s Triathlon result plus his/her best performance from either the Aquathlon or the Duathlon, Chong will be in pole position even by missing the Duathlon.

The women’s race played out slightly differently to the men’s contest, with none of the final podium placers first out of the water. That honour went to Brittany Iverson, but Haesner’s slip at the start didn’t prove too costly as she was next onto the beach, 22 seconds behind.

The importance of a quick transition in such a short race was demonstrated perfectly as Iverson lost nearly all of her advantage in T1, and this resulted in Haesner moving into the lead early on the run.

The Aussie didn’t have it her own way, however, as just behind was Winona Howe, one of Singapore’s star junior triathletes. Howe could see her prey ahead for most of the race but she couldn’t close the gap, with Haesner proving just a little bit quicker. She won in the end by 26 seconds.

The battle for the second and third was far from over, though, and in echoes of the men’s race, a runner appeared from nowhere to challenge for the honours in the shape of Vanja Cnops. The Belgian athlete swam a full two minutes slower than Howe but a storming run leg of 18:25 looked like it was going to get her the silver medal. Sensing her hard-charging opponent behind her, Howe dug deep and held on in the finishing chute to claim second place by just two seconds.

A bubbly Haesner was a captivating champion.

“I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I’m stuffed!” she declared.

She said she had been hopeful of a podium place pre-race but then came that stumble.

“I fell over at the swim start and I thought that might have cost me a lot of seconds, so after that I definitely didn’t think I’d win,” she said.

But despite losing the fastest feet in the water, Haesner showed good discipline to focus on her own race and she was rewarded with the win. She can’t wait for the rest of the series.

“I’m definitely doing all of them. It’s fun, it’s good, there’s a great spirit too,” she said.

It wasn’t all about the elites, however. Triathlon and its aquathlon and duathlon siblings firmly focus on the ordinary age-groupers, and over a thousand of them registered for their fun day in the sun in the Sprint race. A shorter Discovery Distance comprising a 250m swim and 2.5km run was also on the race-day card, with Meg Jerram and Zi Wang Teo the women’s and men’s champions respectively. Jerram incidentally went faster than her male counterpart.

The Youths’ race was also competed over the 250m-2.5km distance and the 14-15 age group especially often provides glimpses of future stars. Indeed, Sunday’s Sprint Distance winner Chong finished third in the Youth’s race in 2012.

This year, though, it was Kyle Izzo, Aaron Tan and Ryan Tan putting on the fireworks in a scintillating race. The trip exited the water together with Izzo having the slight edge. They ran out of T1 still in a group and even though Izzo started to edge away half way though the run, his lead was always mere seconds so there was no chance to ease off. Izzo captured the title with a strong surge down the blue carpet to win in a time of 12:58. His margin was seven seconds from Aaron Tan, with Ryan Tan just two seconds further back. Three names definitely to look out for.

The female Youths’ champ Zoe Bowden wasn’t pushed so hard for her victory, but she recorded a fast time of 13:50 in claiming the title. The second and third-fastest times actually came from the 12-13 age group, with Emma Middleditch and Tamika Mei-Nah Baynes taking those honours.

Last but not least came the kids’ races, which always provide an inspirational end to the day. Matthew Trott took the boys’ title from Josh McCallum and Achille Triomphe. The girls’ champion was Siobhan Doyle, whose time of 9:57 was actually quicker than all but the first two boys. The runner-up in the girls’ race was Natalie Hunter with Elizabeth Rose in third.

Next up in the New Moon KhCycle MetaSprint Series is the Duathlon on March 16. The event promises to be hugely exciting as the race headquarters moves to the F1 Grand Prix track at Republic Boulevard. For full information and to register go to www.metasprintseries.com.



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