Faris lives up to top billing
The Star Online>24/2/2008
LANGKAWI: Former world champion Faris Al Sultan did not push himself to the limit but it was still good enough for him to win the Langkawi Ironman Triathlon 2008 comfortably yesterday.
The German, who lifted the world Ironman title in Hawaii three years ago, completed the gruelling race – comprising 3.8km swim, 180km cycling and 42.2km marathon run – in 8’34:32.
Faris was able to cruise to the finish line as he had built a lead of more than 30 minutes over second-placed Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic.
“Although I cannot compare the Langkawi course to the one used for the World Championships in Hawaii, it is tougher coping with the heat here,” said the 30-year-old Faris.
“As a former world champion, everyone was expecting me to win here. However, it was not an easy race and I had to pace myself really well to reach the finish line. My aim was to distance myself from the chasing pack, especially Petr.
“He had caught me twice before this, during the marathon in the German and South African Ironman races. But I am glad that my plan worked well here. I did not perform too well in the run, but under these weather conditions, I am satisfied with my performance.”
Despite his finishing time yesterday not coming close to his 8’14:00 personal best finish, Faris was not perturbed.
“It is not important for me to break records, especially in such a demanding weather condition. I am just glad to get my 2008 season off to a winning start,” said the German, who has qualified for the season-ending Ironman World Championships in October with yesterday’s victory.
The Langkawi Ironman men’s record of 8’10:35 was set by Kiwi Bryan Rhodes in 2002.
In the women’s category, 37-year-old Australian Belinda Granger finally got her maiden victory in Langkawi in a new meet record of 9’29:21. The previous record of 9’42:33 was set by Germany’s Nicole Leder last year.
Yvonne Van Verklen came in second six minutes later, with Japanese Yasuko Miyazaki a surprise third in 10’14:01.
The best Malaysian finisher was former national cyclist Wong Ah Thiam, who came in a very creditable third in the 30-34 age group category, clocking 10’03:59.
Men: 1. Faris Al Sultan (Ger) 8’34:32, 2. Petr Vabrousek (Cze) 9’04:54, 3. Elmar Schubert (Aut) 9’06:03, 4. Mathieu O’Halloran (Can) 9’09:17, 5. Luke Dragstra (Can) 9’17:49.
Women: 1. Belinda Granger (Aus) 9’29:21, 2. Yvonne Van Verklen (Ned) 9’35:46, 3. Yasuko Miyazaki (Jpn) 10’14:01, 4. Hillary Biscay (Usa) 10’18:11, 5. Ute Streiter (Aut) 10’50:30.