The second round of the ITU World Cup season returns to Ishigaki for the 17th straight year in 2012. The small island southwest of Japan’s mainland has been on the World Cup circuit since 1996, and has become a favourite with athletes around the world.
This year, a strong Japanese women’s team including Kiyomi Niwata, Ai Ueda and Yuka Sato will be tested by an international contingent that includes Melanie Annaheim (SUI), Zurine Rodriguez (ESP), Aileen Morrison (IRL), Kathy Tremblay (CAN), Pamela Oliveira (BRA), and Gillian Sanders (RSA). While in the men’s elite race, France’s David Hauss will wear the No.1 for the second World Cup event this year and is the favourite to record his first major ITU win, but will have to get past Canada’s Kyle Jones and Brent McMahon.
About the race:
The Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup is the longest running ITU World Cup event, having been held every year since 1996. The island, approximately 2000km southwest of Tokyo, has become a triathlon mecca in Japan’s triathlon scene in that time. Each year over 1600 age-group triathletes from all over the region race on the island, as all its residents turn out to cheer for the weekend warriors and elite contenders.
Elite Women – Sunday 22 April – 13:30 (UTC/GMT + 9) Click here for time in your area
Elite Men – Sunday 22 April – 16:00 (UTC/GMT + 9)
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY:
$50,000 USD (equal for men & women)
Swim – Two-lap, 1.5km swim in Tonoshiro Fishery Harbour.
Bike – Seven-lap, technical 40km bike leg with athletes riding up and over a large bridge.
Run – Three-lap, 10km run that includes crossing the same bridge.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR:
Olympic qualifying – The official Olympic qualifying period ends on May 31st, which means the battle on both sides of ITU’s qualification procedure is heating up. Athletes score points to qualify a place for their National Federation, and then aim to meet their individual NFs qualification criteria to secure their spot on the London 2012 start line. Click here for the Olympic Qualifying 101.
In Ishigaki, the important battles are with those athletes who have decided to miss the ETU European Championships in Eilat and instead race in Japan. They include Kathrin Muller (GER), Melanie Annaheim (SUI), Zurine Rodriguez (ESP) and Aileen Morrison (IRL). All are chasing important points for their NOC or individual results, some both. Muller will be aiming to overtake Daniela Ryf (SUI) 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.
Firsts on the line – France’s David Hauss has been one of the men most likely to win for years, as he goes around the ITU World Triathlon Series and World Cup series collecting bronze and silver medals. But after starting 2012 with a bronze in Mooloolaba and then fourth in Sydney, 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 the man that wears the No.2, Kyle Jones is also chasing his first World Cup title and is also in form, he was the top Canadian man in Sydney. The top Canadian woman in Sydney, Kathy Tremblay is also chasing her first World Cup win plus enough points to put her into Olympic contention. She claimed silver here in 2009. Others that are chasing their first ITU World Cup wins include Annaheim, Morrison and Rodriguez.
Japanese at home – The Japanese women have done well in Ishigaki in the past, with Kiyomi Niwata and Juri Ide winning at home, but there is also more on the line this year with Olympic selection on the line. Japan has all but secured three women’s spots, while Ai Ueda has already wrapped up her place, others could put themselves in the picture with a podium spot. The leaders in that category are Niwata, who is aiming to be just the second female triathlete to qualify for four consecutive Olympics, and Yuka Sato, the first Youth Olympics gold medallist in triathlon. Sato claimed silver at the Asian Championships two weeks ago, and Ueda bronze, while Niwata was fourth. In the men’s field, Ryosuke Yamamoto and Hirokatsu Tayama will be hoping to continue on their Asian Championship medal performances and further stake their Olympics claim.
PAST ISHIGAKI WINNERS: WOMEN MEN
2011 Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) Hunter Kemper (USA)
2010 Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) Valentin Meshcheryakov (RUS)
2009 Juri Ide (JPN) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
2008 Emma Snowsill (AUS) Simon Whitfield (CAN)
2007 Vanessa Fernandes (POR) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
2006 Debbie Tanner (NZL) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
2005 Samantha Warriner (NZL) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
2004 Maxine Seear (AUS) Bevan Docherty (NZL)
2003 Barb Lindquist (USA) Greg Bennett (AUS)
2002 Barb Lindquist (USA) Peter Robertson (AUS)
2001 Loretta Harrop (AUS) Ivan Rana (ESP)
2000 Rina Hill (AUS) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
1999 Loretta Harrop (AUS) Greg Welch (AUS)
1998 Emma Carney (AUS) Greg Welch (AUS)
1997 Emma Carney (AUS) Chris McCormack (AUS)
1996 Emma Carney (AUS) Miles Stewart (AUS)