On Friday, at the World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi presented by Daman, Great Britain’s Alex Yee and Beth Potter got their seasons off to a winning start.
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Held at Yas Marina Circuit, the day also featured the Para Cup races, in which the world’s best athletes began their pursuit of crucial ranking points in order to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
After a tough race in the heat, the world’s fifth-ranked female runner, Potter, took home the gold medal.
In the final 5 kilometers of the bike race, Potter and her teammate Sophie Coldwell broke away from a break of six riders. She crossed the finish line in a time of 57 minutes, 56 seconds, besting Coldwell and Taylor Spivey of the United States, who took second and third, respectively.
Potter, who is now 31 years old, exclaimed in elation, “It’s fantastic to win. I put in a lot of effort in the water to make sure I didn’t drop out of the race and then tried to pull away as much as possible for the remainder of the event. Despite the difficulty, I felt confident on the bike and in my riding skills.
The heat made the race more difficult, but since it was only a sprint, I pushed through to the end. This boosts my confidence for the rest of the season, and I intend to keep working hard in Leeds once I return there.
And in the men’s race, second-ranked Yee of the world cruised to victory in a time of 52 minutes, 53 seconds. The silver medalist from the 2020 Olympics, now 25 years old, ran his signature fast 5 kilometers to win gold.
Vasco Vilaca of Portugal came in second, six seconds behind the winner; this was his first World Triathlon Series podium appearance in three years. Manoel Messias of Brazil placed third.
I know it’s early doors because there’s still a long way to go until the end of the season, but (I’m) really pleased to start on a winning note,” Yee said after his victory. It’s great that my four-week trip to Australia was productive.
“I just wanted to do well,” she said, “strongly throughout the race, not giving up on positions on the swim, bike, and run.”
Jairo Ruiz Lopez of Spain was one of the race winners at the Para Cup competitions. In the PTS5 division, he finished first in a time of 59 minutes and 54 seconds, besting the efforts of Antoine Besse of France and Andreas Doulappas of Cyprus.
According to the Spaniard, “it’s really good, especially as it was a difficult season last year with injuries. I’m overjoyed to have won today and can’t wait to return to Abu Dhabi. I feel like I had a great start to the race thanks to my excellent swim and cycling.
Carmen Gonzalez Sanchez of Spain won the PTS4 division of the Para Cup. Austria’s veteran swimmer Florian Brungraber led Jose Cristobal Ramos Jimenez by several lengths early on in the PTWC races, and Ramos Jimenez eventually finished second to gold medalist Eva Maria Moral Pedrero.
The younger generation in the UAE, meanwhile, showed great spirit in the junior events.
Alexander Da Cruz, 12, competed in the duathlon for kids his age (12-13) and was one of hundreds to follow on the same course as the elite athletes. The experience of racing on the Formula One track for the second time in a week left him in awe.
“I love the sport and I usually cycle and run a lot, so competing against other people really pushed me to go further and makes you think about what you can achieve in the future,” he said. Last week I participated in the Tri Yas, and it was awesome to get to use the Formula One track for my running and cycling.
Maria Samuelle, who participated in the race for children ages 10 and 11, also had a great time. I had a great time,” the youngster proclaimed. It was challenging, but I persisted and am pleased to report that I succeeded. I really enjoyed competing because those are three sports that I really enjoy.
This year marks the eighth time that Abu Dhabi has hosted the world championship triathlon, which will come to a close on Saturday with the age group competitions.