Asia Triathlon continental titles to be settled in Hatsukaichi

by Ben Eastman on 16 Apr, 2024 08:07
Asia Triathlon continental titles to be settled in Hatsukaichi

The reigning Asian champions over the standard distance will get the chance to defend their titles on home soil this weekend as the Asia Championships take place in Hatsukaichi, Japan. Hatsukaichi hosted the 2021 edition of the championships to great success, and this weekend will mark its return to the international calendar.

Returning gold medallists

Kenji Nener (JPN) arrives as the reigning champion having won the 2023 championships held in conjunction with the Asian Games. In light of his recent form, Nener will be confident of repeating his success: he claimed a maiden World Cup medal in Hong Kong with an impressive all-round display.

As it happens, Nener also won the Asian title in Hatsukaichi in 2021. He therefore ticks several boxes, from recent form to previous success at the venue, and appears a strong candidate for the win.

Yuko Takahasi (JPN) likewise arrives as the defending gold medallist in the women’s event. The WTCS stalwart opened her season with a solid 7th place at the Europe Cup Quarteira. Moreover, at the end of 2023 she won a silver medal at the Tongyeong World Cup. Like Nener, then, Takahashi arrives in Hatsukaichi with recent success at both the world and continental level to her name.

With home support behind them, beating Nener and Takahashi could prove an invidious task.

The men’s challengers

However, the Asia Championships have attracted a stellar field and a number of threats could topple last year’s victors. World Cup medallists Takumi Hojo (JPN) and Makoto Odakura (JPN) are clear candidates for the men’s title among Nener’s own teammates.

Furthermore Junjie Fan (CHN) will be racing fresh off his win at the Asia Championships over the sprint distance. His compatriot Yunxiang Ma (CHN) will be another rising force to track.

As ever, the New Flag race to Paris 2024 among the Asian men remains alive and kicking. Ayan Beisenbayev (KAZ) lost his advantage over Jason Ng Tai Long (HKG) after the sprint race in Dexing and will hope to bounce back this weekend. On their day, Beisenbayev and Ng could upset the home team and take the win.

Tzu I Pan (TPE) could also prove a factor in breaking up the race in the water. He led into T1 at the Asia Championships in Dexing.

The women’s challengers

Among the women’s field, the newly-crowned Asian champion over the sprint distance, Meiyi Lu (CHN), is one of the leading challengers to Takahashi’s title defence. Lu will also be joined by Yifan Yang (CHN), a superb swimmer that is rapidly improving across all disciplines, and Xinyu Lin (CHN), a powerful cyclist with top-5 finishes at World Cups. Yang and Lin also made the podium at the 2023 Asian Games and could conceivably upgrade their medals to gold.

Ekaterina Shabalina (KAZ) was the Asian sprint distance champion in 2023 and will look to add the standard distance title to her collection. Once again, though, the New Flag race could come into play as her rival Bailee Brown (HKG) will be starting.

Brown got the better of Shabalina recently in Dexing and another high finish in Hatsukaichi could swing the New Flag competition decisively in the Hong Kong athlete’s favour.

Elsewhere, Miyu Sakai (JPN), Gyuri Kim (KOR), Sarika Nakayama (JPN) and more could feature at the front of the field. All things considered, the defending champions will have their work cut out in claiming another Asian title.

As a result, two tense events can be expected this weekend.

For the full start lists, click here, and keep up to date with the latest from Hatsukaichi and beyond across World Triathlon channels.

Article tags asian championships
Related Event: 2024 Asia Triathlon Championships Hatsukaichi
21 Apr, 2024 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Kenji Nener JPN 01:53:51
2. Takumi Hojo JPN 01:55:04
3. Junjie Fan CHN 01:56:26
4. Yunxiang Ma CHN 01:57:00
5. Aoba Yasumatsu JPN 01:57:09
Results: Elite Women
1. Yuko Takahashi JPN 02:05:56
2. Xinyu Lin CHN 02:06:26
3. Yifan Yang CHN 02:06:43
4. Hye Rim Jeong KOR 02:09:04
5. Yuka Sato JPN 02:09:34
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