1,400 compete in Weihai triathlon event

Updated: 2014-09-23 15:52

By Wang Qian(chinadaily.com.cn)

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More than 1,400 athletes from 34 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States, converged in Weihai, Shandong province, to compete in the 2014 Long Distance Triathlon World Championships.

The two-day event, which ended on Sept 21, is the biggest on the International Triathlon Union's 20-year-old long distance triathlon calendar. This was the first time it was held in Asia.

Athletes from France claimed the top three medals in the men's event, with Bertrand Billard capturing gold by completing the 4-km swim, 120-km bike ride and 20-km running course in a time of 5:09.09.

Denmark's Camilla Pedersen claimed the title in the women's event, less than a year after coming out of an induced coma following a life-threatening bike crash.

Having returned to action only in April, Pedersen posted a time of 5:43.31 to become a world champion for the first time.

"It is one year since my bad accident. I have come back!" Pedersen said.

Wang Xuanqing, president of the China Triathlon Sports Association, praised the participants.

"Of all the athletes, some of them are top players. However, most of them are amateur triathlon fans and followers from all over the world who have passion and love for the triathlon event."

Wang said that their participation shows a "triathlon spirit", composed of nature, challenge, courage and responsibility, and give out a vivid explanation of the national fitness era.

Marisol Casado, president of ITU and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said, "Long distance triathlon is an incredibly the important part of ITU, as it is a grueling test of mental and physical endurance in the triathlon's three core sports.

"We are pleased to take our premier long-distance event to Weihai, where an experienced team that has hosted various ITU events in the past and a well-tested infrastructure awaits," she said.

In addition to crowning the Long Distance Triathlon World Champions, the event also included world championships in paratriathlon as well as hosting age-group triathletes from around the world.

Wehei Mayor Zhang Hui said the city has hosted international long distance triathlon competitions every year since 2010, including the Long Distance Triathlon Asian Championships in 2012 and last year's Long Distance Triathlon World Series event.

With a pleasant environment and challenging racing tracks, the city has been granted the nation's best competition area by China Triathlon Sports Association for three years running since 2011.