Joerie promises to continue brother’s legacy in Malaysia
November 11, 2007
PETALING JAYA: The Malakoff Powerman Malaysia 2007 Duathlon Championships in Lumut today will not be short of excitement despite the absence of defending champion Benny Vansteelant, who passed away two months ago.
Joerie Vansteelant, Benny’s younger brother, has promised to keep things in the family to take the men’s elite crown.
Last year, Benny finished the race in 2’45:01 while Joerie was second in 2’46:23. Kenya’s Crispine Onyango, the 2004 Powerman champion, was third in 2’49:27.
Benny, who was the top-ranked duathlete in the world at the time of his death in September, died from injuries sustained when he was run over by a car during a cycling training near his home in Tourhout, Belgium.
“It has been an emotional two months for me because Benny and I were so close, and motivated each other. These past two years, we competed against each other in races when I moved into the elite category. He won all the time too, but I was getting closer,” Joerie said during a break in his training session at Seri Manjung yesterday.
“The very last time we raced, I was 20 seconds behind, that’s nothing in long distance races like the duathlon,” the Belgian said.
His main concern for the race is the weather as the heat and humidity may take an unexpected toll.
“My strategy is to go all out during the first run and build up a strong lead while the weather is still relatively cool. This will make a big difference as there are many strong cyclists in the field, and the Asian participants have the advantage of being acclimatised to the heat,” said Joerie.
Joerie was crowned the world champion long distance duathlete in October after an impressive performance in Richmond, the United States.
He also won the Powerman races in Ohio, the United States, and Weyzer, Austria, earlier this year. Now, he is determined to add the Malakoff Powerman Malaysia to his list of wins.
Meanwhile, women world number one Erika Csomor of Hungary will be back to defend her title in the women’s elite category. Csomor clocked 3’06:13 to clinch the crown in Lumut last year. Michelle Parsons of England finished second in 3’07:59 while Reka Brassay of Hungary was third after clocking 3’14:03.
More than 560 participants, including Malaysians, will be vying for honours.
A total of RM132,000 in prize money is up for grabs in the various categories.
Shahrom Abdullah and Heidilee Mohamed will be leading Malaysia’s challenge in the men’s category.
Mariana Mohamed, who finished a creditable fifth last year, and Stephanie Chok Kui Eng will be Malaysia’s challengers in the women’s category.
All four are preparing for the Korat SEA Games in December.
The duathlon involves an 11km run, a 64km bike race and then another 10km race.
There will be three categories contested – individual (11km run-64km bike-10km run), Malakoff Power Relay (11km run-64km bike-10km run) and Malakoff Sprint Duathlon (5.5km run-32km bike-5km run).