By Merryn Sherwood on 17/04/12 at 11:03 pm
The ITU World Cup series returns to Ishigaki for an incredible 17th consecutive year in 2012. The small island southwest of Japan’s mainland has been on the World Cup circuit since 1996, making it the longest event in ITU history, and has become a favourite with athletes around the world. This year it’s also one of the final major events for Olympic qualification points, and expect the racing to be even more fast and furious than usual.
Elite Women’s Preview
While the other half of Europe tackles the ETU Championships in Eilat this weekend, there is a large group of European athletes who have chosen to chase points in Ishigaki instead, including Kathrin Muller (GER), Melanie Annaheim (SUI), Zurine Rodriguez (ESP) and Aileen Morrison (IRL). All are chasing important points for their National Olympic Committee (NOC) or individual results, some both. Muller will be aiming to overtake Daniela Ryf and put Germany back into contention for three spots. Annaheim is after a result to confirm her own London selection, while Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs and Margit Vanek are aiming for points to ensure they qualify two spots for Hungary. While Morrison doesn’t exactly need points, she is already ranked #11 on the list, she claimed silver in Ishigaki in 2011 and another podium would help her own Olympic bid and form.
Canadian Kathy Tremblay posted her best series result since 2009 in Sydney last week, already has a win this year at a Pan American Cup event in Clermont, and if she does well could possibly edge herself into Olympic calculations.
Others to watch include Pamela Oliveira, the Pam Am Games bronze medallist who rode with the lead bike pack for the whole 40km in Mooloolaba. New African champion Gillian Sanders, fellow South African Carlyn Fischer and Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo. But make no mistake, all the women are expecting to chase a strong host team that includes Kiyomi Niwata, Ai Ueda and Yuka Sato. While Ueda will start as the #1, and has already secured Olympic qualification, Niwata, a three-time Olympian, and Sato, the first Youth Olympics gold medallist, will be after strong performances to increase their chances of getting to London.
Elite Men’s Preview
France’s David Hauss has been one of the men most likely to breakthrough, as he goes around the ITU World Triathlon Series and World Cups collecting bronze and silver medals. But after starting 2012 with a bronze in Mooloolaba and then fourth in Sydney, even after serving a time penalty, he’s primed for his first major ITU win. Hauss has three ITU wins in his career, all African Cup events, but will wear the No.1 in a huge Ishigaki field this weekend.
But Canadians Kyle Jones and Brent McMahon also have plenty to race for, they are chasing points to ensure Canada qualifies three spots for London. Both have had strong starts to 2012 as well, will start as #2 and #3 respectively behind Hauss.
The rest of the field is intriguing, there are more Europeans who have chosen to race in Japan rather than Eilat, like Gavin Noble and Christian Prochnow. There is also a strong South American presence, including Brazil’s Diogo Sclebin, Bruno Matheus and Juraci Moreira, Argentina’s Gonzalo Raul Tellechea and Luciano Taccone, and Colombia’s Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero. Ryosuke Yamamoto is the highest-ranked Japanese athlete, but Hirokatsu Tayama showed he is also dangerous with his recent silver at the 2012 Asian Championships.
The racing gets underway when the women’s elite starts at 1:30pm (local time) on Sunday 22 April, followed by the men’s race at 4pm. Live timing and text updates will be available on www.triathlon.org/live, and the full wrap and video highlights will be at www.triathlon.org after the race.
Find more details about this event - 2012 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup