Slovakia’s Richard Varga and Hungary’s Margit Vanek took home top honours at the 2010 ITU Aquathlon World Championship in Budapest, each using a strong swim leg to pull away from the field. The fast and furious event, which consisted of a 1,000-meter swim followed by a 2.5-km run, was the first race of this year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final. This Saturday and Sunday, ITU World Champions will also be crowned in the Age Group, Junior, U23, Paratriathlon and Elite categories.
In the men’s Elite Aquathlon, Varga was the only man to finish the swim in under 12 minutes, doing so in 11:26. Great Britain’s Daniel Halksworth exited the chilly swim in the Danube River 35 seconds later, with a small group of men right on his heels. By the time the rest of the field got onto the run course, Varga was too far up the road and he strode the easy win in 20:27. Halksworth hung on for second, finishing in 20:48. Hungary’s Attila Fecskovics delighted the crowd by finishing third, using the day’s second-best run to finish in 20:57.
The excitement for the Hungarian fans continued in the women’s contest, with Hungary pulling off the one-two punch. Italy’s Gaia Person took the early lead out of the swim, finishing in 12:46, but Vanek was only four seconds behind. The pair headed out onto the run neck-and-neck, but it wasn’t long before Vanek pulled away. Vanek broke the tape with a run split of 8:36, as teammate Szandra Szalay pulled up to second at the finish, coming in 40 seconds later. Peron held on for third, finishing just five seconds back of Szalay.
In the men’s U23 competition, Great Britain’s Phil Wolfe pulled out the win, finishing in an impressive time of 20:51. Wolfe’s time was faster than all but two of the Elite men. The Junior titles were won by Italy’s Elena Maria Petini and Ireland’s Benjamin Shaw.
Over 290 age-group athletes representing 34 countries also took part in today’s Aquathlon World Championship.
ITU Aquathlon World Championship
1-km swim, 2.5-km run
1. Margin Vanek (HUN) 22:22
2. Szandra Szalay (HUN) 23:02
3. Gaia Peron (ITA) 23:07
4. Birgit Cais-Berk (NED) 23:51
5. Sara Vilic (CRO) 24:41
1. Richard Varga (SVK) 20:27
2. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 20:48
3. Attila Fecskovics (HUN) 20:57
4. Ivan Ivanov (UKR) 21:10
5. Akos Vanek (HUN) 21:22
ITU World Championship Grand Final
The world’s top triathletes are in beautiful Budapest, Hungary, ready to take on the second annual Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final. After races in Sydney, Seoul, Madrid, Hamburg, London and Kitzbühel, the final event of the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series lands in the Hungarian capital, showcasing many of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks. On Saturday and Sunday, world champions will be crowned in the Age Group, Junior, U23, Paratriathlon and Elite categories. Over 3,000 athletes representing 67 nations are scheduled to compete in this weekend’s events. The Elite races will be shown live in 15 countries and at a later date in an additional 14 countries.
The Elite men will kick things off with a 1,500-meter swim in the Danube River at 1:00 pm local time on Saturday. Heading into the final race of the Series, Germany’s Jan Frodeno leads the ITU World Rankings. Frodeno has been red hot this season, finishing on the podium four times, including a win at round two of the Series in Seoul.
Currently second in the rankings is 2008 World Champion Javier Gomez of Spain. The Spaniard is the only man to win two Series events this year, taking back-to-back titles in Hamburg and London. Gomez sits 231 points back of Frodeno in the current standings, which means that if he wins and Frodeno finishes off the podium, Gomez will earn his second world title.
While Frodeno and Gomez are the favourites to take home the World Championship, they’re not the only ones in the hunt. World number three Alexander Brukhankov will be looking for another strong showing to put the icing on the best year of his career. If the Russian takes the title in Budapest and Frodeno and Gomez finish outside of the top ten, Brukhankov will be world champ.
Others will a shot at the world title include Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt (currently ranked 4th), Germany’s Steven Justus (5th), Aussie Courtney Atkinson (6th) and American Jarrod Shoemaker (7th). Each of these athletes will need the top three men to finish outside of the top ten in order to move up to the top spot in the rankings.
Because he missed the first two events of the Series, reigning world champ Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain will not have a shot at repeating as world champion, but the fleet-footed Brit is always a threat to take the win.
The race for the women’s world title is even tighter, with reigning world champion Emma Moffatt of Australia and Kiwi Andrea Hewitt separated by only 52 points. Neither Moffatt nor Hewitt have won a Series race this season, but both have been incredibly consistent, scoring six podium finishes between the two them. If Hewitt finishes one spot ahead of Moffatt in Budapest, she’ll have a great shot at taking the title.
Sweden’s Lisa Norden is currently third, 204 points back of Hewitt. She’s been on a roll as of late, winning in Hamburg and also taking top honours at the first-ever ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne three weeks ago. If the Swede takes the win and Moffatt and Hewitt finish off the podium, Norden will be world champion.
Other women with a good shot at taking the 2010 crown include Brit Helen Jenkins (currently 4th), Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig (5th) and Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz (6th).
Many of the women will have their eyes on 21-year-old Canadian Paula Findlay, who has won the last two Series races in London and Kitzbühel. Because she’s only competing in her third event of the Series, it’s highly unlikely that she’ll be able to move up to the top spot in the rankings, but she’ll no doubt be a threat to take her third consecutive win.
The Elite men will race at 1:00 pm local time on Saturday, with the Elite women to follow at 2:00 pm on Sunday. Live video coverage will be available at triathlon.org/tv
Elite men start – Saturday, September 11 – 1:00pm – click here to view time in your location.
Elite women start – Sunday, September 12 – 2:00pm – click here to view time in your location.
Live video, text and timing updates will be available during both Elite races at www.triathlon.org/tv