Mariko Adachi was predicted for gold at the Asian Games and she did not disappoint, dominating today’s women’s triathlon competition in Guangzhou for the gold medal.
Her teammate Akane Tsuchihashi won the silver, capping off a spectacular day for Japan. Yun Jung Jang came across for the bronze winning Korea’s first ever triathlon medal at the Asian Games.
A small field of 11 women dove into Centre Lake at the University Town in Guangzhou and immediately, the strong Japanese women took the early lead. Adachi and Tsuchihashi exited the water more than 20 seconds ahead of the Korean swimmers Jang and Dan Bi Hong, along with Fan Dan of China.
Out onto the flat 40-kilometre bike course, Adachi and Tsuchihashi were unable to get away, resulting in a lead group of five women. After the first lap, they owned a commanding lead of almost two minutes over the first chase pack which included Hoi Long of Macau and Liu Ting of China.
The seemingly healthy lead of two minutes did not last. By the second last bike lap, Hoi and Liu’s hard work paid off as they pulled even with the leaders.
Seven women entered T2 together with Jang leading the way. Adachi was fourth to hit the hilly 10-kilometre run course but on the first lap, she surged to the front and never looked back.
Adachi dominated the run with the fastest split of the day and cruised to the finish line for Japan’s first medal of the 16th Asian Games.
“I was confident to break away from the group in the final run leg,” said Adachi. “All the effort we have done together with my teammates made this victory possible. I am really happy to win this race today.”
Tomorrow, Asian triathlon powerhouse Japan targets more medals in the men’s competition. Ryosuke Yamamoto and Yuichi Hosoda are favourites for gold but Korean upstart Min Ho Heo of Korea will look to pull off the upset.
Photo: Satoshi Takasaki / ASTC JTU