Daniela Ryf claimed the crown at the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain today, winning not only the title but also making history as triathlon’s first “million-dollar baby”.
The Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship was the last of the three races comprising the Nasser Bin Hamad Triple Crown series, where the athlete who wins all three is awarded a one million-dollar bonus. The Swiss star’s wins at Challenge Dubai and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship set up this weekend as one to watch, and Ryf delivered by creating a gap on the bike and building an insurmountable lead on the run after the day’s swim was canceled due to strong currents. Ryf also ends her stellar year undefeated and a world champion twice over, having also added the Ironman World Championship to her list of accolades.
“The last six weeks after Kona, I put my head down toward this race, and I’m so happy I could finish strong and take this win,” she said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. It’s been a great journey and I’m also grateful for the support from my team… And of course, my coach. He supported me so much and the last weeks were not easy. I was really struggling to keep the focus.”
Ryf’s compatriot Caroline Steffen made it a one-two punch for Bahrain Endurance on the women’s podium, making her pass for second in the final kilometers of the run. “I’m really glad the season is over,” she said. “I was hoping for top three, at least second I think I could be pretty happy with that. I never did back-to-back races so that was a good experience. Being not healthy all week long didn’t really help but I learned a lot this week and I think I absolutely got the best out of me. It’s a great way to finish a big year
James Cunnama claimed bronze on the men’s podium, playing a smart race that saw him stay in contention from start until finish.
Jodie Swallow finished in fourth despite gastric problems that left her heaving and with no energy. David Plese also took fourth, while Brent McMahon crossed the finish line just seconds behind him. Domenico Passuello closed out the men’s top ten, Ben Hoffman finished 12th, and Eric Watson 19th.
Team captain Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa claimed the silver medal in his age group, proudly wearing his lucky bib number 13. His father, the King of Bahrain, greeted him at the finish line.
It has been a massive weekend and an even more accomplished year for the Bahrain Endurance Team. “Super proud to play a part in the richest day in our sport’s history,” said team manager Chris McCormack. “Bahrain is changing the professional landscape of our sport.”
Bahrain Endurance Image Gallery: click here to access the gallery
Photo credit: Delly Carr / Bahrain ENDURANCE Media
For further information on the team, visit – www.bahrainendurance13.com