GOMEZ RETURNS TO GLORY
Gomez and Ryf dominate proceedings at the IM Dubai 70.3
issing the Rio Olympics was a huge disappointment for Javier Gomez, so it will be a relief to fans to see him back on form in the first major race of the season.
With his broken elbow (incurred while cycling home from a training run three weeks before the Games) well and truly mended, plus a tough training camp in Lanzarote under his belt, the Brownlees’ nemesis was ready to make his debut.
However, even with last year’s champion Jan Frodeno out of the picture (having just become a father to baby Luca, with wife
MEmma Snowsill), it wasn’t going to be easy.
After a fast swim on an altered course, which saw him emerge 40 seconds behind the leader Josh Amberger of Australia, he slipped back to finish the bike in sixth place.
Clad in his new On Running shoes, much to the delight of the Swiss sponsors, he carved out an impressive run, picking off his rivals one by one and finishing two minutes ahead of second placed Amberger.
Over in the women’s race Kaisa Lehtonen (FIN), last year’s Ironman South Africa champion, would have welcomed shoes of any kind.
After entering T2 in fourth place and hoping to better her third place finish from last year, the 35-year-old was unable to find her running shoes.
After four frantic minutes in transition, the plucky athlete headed out in seventh place barefoot before a pair of shoes became available.
In an impressive performance, Lehtonen clocked up the third fastest run split of the day (1:20:21).
“This episode took away a lot of energy and time and missed the chance to go for podium,” she said afterwards. “Very frustrating. On the other hand the fitness level seemed to be even better than expected.”
Up ahead, defending champion Daniela Ryf (SUI) was never in danger of relinquishing her crown. The Kona World Champion exited the water just three seconds behind Ellie Salthouse (AUS), then proceeded to obliterate the rest of the field in true Ryf fashion.
Brit Emma Pallant churned out the fastest run split of the day (1:18:21) to take overall fourth place.