Van Riel, Matthews crowned Ironman champions in Bahrain!
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Marten Van Riel from Belgium and Kat Matthews from the UK were yesterday crowned champions of this year’s Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain. Van Riel claimed first place amongst the pro men while Matthews triumphed amongst the pro women.
The event was held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, with His Majesty the King’s humanitarian work and youth affairs representative and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports (SCYS) chairman His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in attendance.
The gruelling endurance challenge began with a 1.9-kilometre swim, followed by a 90km cycle and ended with a 21.1km run. More than 60 professionals from a total field of around 1,600 athletes representing 88 countries took part.
Van Riel won in a total time of three hours 31 minutes 21 seconds, while Matthews completed the race distance in 3:59:07. Joining Van Riel on the pro men’s podium were Henri Schoeman of South Africa and Max Stapley of Great Britain.
Schoeman was nearly a minute-and-a-half behind the winner in 3:32:50, while Stapley was three minutes back in 3:34:20. Emil Holm of Denmark finished fourth, Gregory Barnaby of Italy was fifth, Wilhelm Hirsch of Germany came sixth, while Nicholas Quenet of South Africa and Thor Bendix Madsen of Denmark completed the top eight.
Amongst the pro women, Matthews was followed by silver-medallist Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand by just over halfa-minute in 3:59:43. They were the only two in their category to finish below four hours.
Caroline Pohle of Germany was the last podium placer after taking third in 4:00:17. Matthews commented after her win: “This race was incredibly challenging, with fierce competition pushing us to our limits. I am thrilled to emerge as the champion and grateful for the support of my team.
“This victory will motivate us to strive for even greater success in future competitions.” Ellie Salthouse from Australia finished fourth and Anna Bergsten of Sweden came fifth, while rounding out the top eight were Kaidi Kivioja of Estonia, Lucy Buckingham of the UK and Laura Madsen of Denmark.
The race started off early in the morning in the water body at Reef Island, where the start and finish were located. The first pro men out of the water were Hirsch, Schoeman and Quenet, while the first three from the women were Buckingham, Pohle and Anne Holm.
Emil Holm then enjoyed the early lead in the cycling stage, but Van Riel quickly took charge and at the 45km-split led Hirsch and Alistair Brownlee from the UK. For the pro women, Buckingham was in front of the field at their 45km-split, followed by Pohle and Anne Holm. Hirsch was then first onto the running course but at the 10km split trailed Van Riel and Schoeman.
Buckingham was ahead amongst the women, and maintained her advantage at the split ahead of Pohle and Matthews. At the tape, Van Riel was able to maintain his place in first to claim his win, while Matthews charged ahead to the finish along with Watkinson and Pohle.
Meanwhile, in the teams’ categories, Bahrain’s prowess was further highlighted as KHK Team secured first place in the men’s division, while the TFT Team emerged as champions in the women’s category.