Age-Group Focus: Grand Final Contenders
Australia’s age-groupers were dominant at last year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final on the Gold Coast, winning a total of 11 Olympic-distance titles. While a strong Aussie age-group contingent is set to compete in next week’s Grand Final in Budapest, they will not enjoy the advantage of competing close to home again, which opens up the door for the European age-groupers to steal the spotlight.
Last year on the Gold Coast, Europeans won a total of four age-group world titles, led by the British squad with two wins. Spain and France each won one title. North American athletes will also look for a strong showing in Budapest, after taking top honours in 11 age-group categories in the Olympic-distance event. U.S. athletes won eight titles last year, with Canada taking the win in three categories.
Here’s a closer look at a few of the top returning age-group athletes in the Olympic-distance competition who will be looking to earn the title of 2010 ITU World Champion in Budapest next Sunday.
Aussie Troy Drinan of Melbourne will return to defend his 2009 title. Drinan had a huge year in 2009, taking the Olympic-distance world title by eight seconds over countryman Michael Prince. Drinan, who also won this age-group at last year’s ITU Long Distance World Championship in Perth, was the only 30-34 year-old man to run under 35 minutes in Gold Coast. Prince, who finished only a few metres back of Drinan last year, will also be competing in Budapest.
All eyes will be on Canadian Suzanne Chandler in this age-group. Chandler, who resides in ITU’s homebase of North Vancouver, used a solid swim-bike combination to take last year’s world title in this age-group by eight seconds. She was named the 2009 Canadian Female Triathlete of the Year in the 18-39 year-old category.
Canadian Stephanie Kieffer will look to defend her 2009 title from the Gold Coast, and will be the heavy favourite to do so. The Vancouver resident won this age-group by over 2:30 in 2009.
The Canadian women will also look to take the 50-54 category, with returning champion Margaret Ritchie of Edmonton set to compete. She was dominant last year, winning this age-group by over a minute. Ritchie, who was named 2009 Canadian Duathlete of the Year in the 40+ category, also won her age-group at last year’s Duathlon World Champs.
This should prove to be one of the most exciting races to watch, with all three of last year’s podium finishers returning. American David Roadhouse of Wilmette, California is the returning champ, winning in the Gold Coast by over three minutes. Last year’s runner-up, Canadian Steve Hardwicke, will look to move up, as will 2009 third-place finisher Robert Plant of the United States.
American Elizabeth Brackett of Chicago easily won this age-group in 2009, and will return to do so again in Budapest. Brackett will look to hold off last year’s runner-up Lois Leon of Warwick, New York, who finished four minutes back at the Gold Coast.
This age-group will also feature all three of last year’s podium finishers. The top returner is American Susan Bradley-Cox of Paducah, Kentucky, who topped the rest of field by an amazing 12 minutes in 2009. She’ll be contested by countrywoman Gracia Val of Evanston, Illinois, who finished second last year, as well as Helen Geoffrion of Santa Monica, California, who rounded out the podium at the Gold Coast.
Returning champion Roger Brockenbrough of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the heavy favourite to score a repeat win, after winning last year’s title by over 15 minutes. The American also won this age-group at the 2009 ITU Duathlon World Championships.
The age-group competition at this year’s Grand Final will kick off with the Sprint-distance athletes competing on Saturday, 11 September, followed by the Olympic-distance competition on Sunday, 12 September.
Related Event: 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU Triathlon World Championship Grand Final Budapest
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