106Asian Games#http://www.doha-2006.com# has brought gold for Kunming's Wang Hongni.
Triathlon is an endurance event consisting of a swim, which usually takes place in open water, followed by a bicycle ride, and then a run. The clock stays running the entire time, meaning that 'transition' is sometimes referred to as the sport's fourth discipline. For an Olympic distance race, such as the one in Doha, the swim course is 1.5km, the bike 40km, and the run 10km.
Wang was second out of the water, close on the tail of Malaysian Yap Fui Li. A fast swim-to-bike transition took her to the front, where she stayed. After the bike leg, she had build up a solid 5:43 minutes lead over Asian champion and pre-event favourite Ai Ueda of Japan. Ueda was able to reduce this over the run, but the gap was too great, with Wang taking gold in 1:59:44, Ueda having to settle for silver, 4:21 behind.
China's Xing Lin also performed strongly - again transitioning fast after the swim to follow Wang out on the bike but was reeled back in by Ueda, Yap and Lea Langit of the Philippines, working together - this being a draft-legal race. Xing crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Although 24-year old Wang claims that cycling is her strong point, cycling more than 200km a day in training, she attributes her win in Doha to her strong swim: "today I won because of the swim. I am very persistent because it is a long distance." This seems to have given her the mental edge to go all the way.
"Even though cycling is my strongest point, I felt a lot of stress and it was very difficult. I took the initiative to overcome the others and I was leading at the beginning and I kept it in my mind that 'I am in the lead'".
In the men's race, which was won by Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Gaag, Daniel Lee Chi Wo of Hong Kong took silver, with James Andrew Wright (also of Hong Kong) placing seventh and the mainland's Jiang Zhihang eighth.
This performance once again shows the idiosyncracies of Chinese endurance sport. China's women perform more strongly than the men - the Beijing marathon being a good example, with Sun Yingjie winning from 2003 to 2005 and Sun Weiwei taking the 2006 top slot. But, put these women in an international field and something goes wrong - Sun Yingjie never performed to her best outside her home country. Wang Hongni's place in the September Beijing triathlon was also nothing special - a solid performance, yes, and the highest placed Chinese female, but nineteen names are above hers in the results table. So, we wait for an altogether different competition in Beijing two years from now.
Yunnan has for a long time been a favoured training ground for Chinese triathletes - the good weather and high altitude make it an ideal place for a sport which involves such large volumes of bicycle and run training time. Unfortunately, a year ago the news was very different - a group of triathletes training on the expressway near Kunming was hit by a car, injuring five athletes and killing one.