By Erin Greene on 18/10/12 at 10:46 pm
The junior men’s race will be the last of the weekend triathlon races to be contested and will feature a rich array of talent from each continent. The athletes will contest the same sprint course as their female counterparts, which includes a one-lap 750m swim in the ocean, a treacherously hilly 20km bike course, and a final 5km run downtown towards the finish.
Tony Smoragiewicz (USA) is the only returning medallist from Beijing where he collected bronze with a late-surge sprint on the run. Smoragiewicz looks to be in form and ready to repeat on the podium after earning silver at the PATCO Junior Pan American Championships in Edmonton earlier this year.
Fabian Villanueva (MEX), who won the PATCO Championships with the fastest run of the day, will also start in Auckland. However, the Pan American leaders will face tough opposition from European and Asian athletes, each of whom will showcase their strongest rising talent.
Matthias Steinwandter (ITA) leads the European contingency, having bested the field at this year’s European Championships. Steinwandter finished just out of medal range in Beijing, which will undoubtedly motivate him in New Zealand to avenge his missed podium.
Steinwandter will be joined by fellow Italian Delian Stateff as a name to watch for in the men’s junior race. Stateff finished second to Steinwandter at the European Championships. While David Pap (HUN) came across in sixth at the continental competition, he clocked one of the fastest bike splits of the day. Such bike skills will be important in Auckland with the challenging course. Pap has also already worked out any pre-race nerves with a third-place finish in the Aquathlon.
Japan will showcase a strong team with the top three from the Asian Championships hailing from the country. Takanori Sugihara (JPN) ran more than 20 seconds faster than his competition to win, while teammates Shiruba Taniguchi, and Ryosuke Maeda followed in second and third.
Troy McAlister and Sam Ward lead a New Zealand team of three. McAlister and Ward both competed in Beijing last year in the 16-19 Age-Group division. McAlister was second in the category, while Ward finished behind him in third.
With such strong talent from each continental championship entered to race, the men’s junior competition is sure to thrill.
The juniors will take off following the elite men’s competition at 4pm local time on Sunday 21 October. Follow the action at triathlon.org/live and on twitter @triathlonlive