CAPE TOWN – It was fourth time lucky for diminutive Japanese triathlete, Ai Ueda, as she thrived in tough conditions to win the women’s elite race at the Discovery Triathlon World Cup Cape Town at Green Point on Sunday.
The 35-year-old veteran, who loves coming to Cape Town more than any other venue on the circuit, upset her young opponents, outrunning former American track star, Summer Rappaport, in the final 2km to clinch a seven-second victory.
“I just love coming to Cape Town,” Ueda admitted. “Yes, the conditions were tough out there – hot and windy – but I think Japanese women are stronger when it’s harder. I’m delighted to have won after making the podium in third position two years ago and after a difficult season last year.
“I knew that Summer had a fast finish with her track background, so I new I had to break her before the finish. So, I made my move at the aid station 2km from the finish and managed to hold her off.
“With the Olympics at home in Tokyo, this win will give me plenty of confidence in my build-up and attempt to make the Japanese team.”
Americans took two thirds of the podium, with 22-year-old Tamara Gorman surprising to finish clear of several more favoured triathletes in third position.
“It will be tough to make the American team for the Olympics,” Gorman admitted. “But perhaps there is a chance. This is only my second podium in an ITU event and it’s my first visit to Cape Town. It’s wonderful here – I just want to stay here forever!”
Gorman was one of six, together with Ueda, Rappaport and Holland’s Rachel Klamer, who made it into the lead group of cyclists after strong swim legs, and who stayed ahead of the following pack throughout the four-lap cycle. In the end that decided the race, South Africa’s Gillian Sanders failed to catch the podium athletes in the run, finishing in an impressive fifth.
“I’m very happy with the start to the season,” said Sanders. “I worked hard on my swimming with my Maritzburg coach in the off-season and it paid dividends today. Now I need to carry on the hard work to earn enough points to make the Olympic team.”