New Zealand’s Braden Currie and Teresa Adam have defended their IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship titles in style, with Currie’s post to post victory making him the first male athlete to go back to back in Cairns, and Adam hanging tough to chase down Brisbane’s Sarah Crowley to repeat a Kiwi double.
Currie came to Cairns with the pressure of defending his title and the necessity of picking up a slot for the IRONMAN World Championship and he produced a flawless performance to hold off former champ Tim van Berkel and third placed David Dellow.
“Cairns turned it on and it was a really special day again. I was here to win and I knew there was going to be some tough competition. Luck rolled my way and I had a good race as well. Defending my title and getting my slot for the IRONMAN World Champs in Kona is amazing, but going post to post is a cool feeling and a real bonus.”
“There were lots of tactics going on and lots of people looking for the Kona ticket but once I got my break I stopped thinking about Kona and sunk it, to make sure I got the win. I was pretty happy to have that eight minute lead coming off the bike and I knew that if I didn’t do anything silly I should have been able to hold on.”
“I feel people have underrated my biking over the years and it is great to show that I can ride solo and hold my own against some of the better guys in the sport on the bike, and put time into them. It was a real step forward for me. Obviously, I didn’t run what I ran last year, but I probably wasn’t under the pressure that I was under last year.”
“It is always hard to go back to back in IRONMAN. It is a sport that you have good days and some really tough days and to get good days, two years in a row is fantastic,” he said.
Van Berkel and Dellow had no answer for the flying Currie but both left Cairns knowing they had hung tough and triumphed in their challenge to get the best out of ailing bodies.
“I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and a runny nose and a cough and I didn’t feel great. I had a rough night sleep last night and I really battled some demons out there. I struggled on the swim and just couldn’t get comfortable on the bike and kept coughing and vomited on myself twice. But on the run I just seemed to come good and run through a few guys to get second and get my Kona slot,” van Berkel said.
“Kona is important. My sponsors want me to be at the IRONMAN World Championship and I have always had the qualification wrapped up by June but this year, I DNF’d in South Africa and missed out. I had to change my plans and get ready for Cairns but I got the job done so I am happy. I definitely didn’t want to have to go looking for another race, if it didn’t work out I was going to miss it for the year.”
“It has been a very busy month racing in Asia. I am cooked and I need a break. My body is hating me at the minute but full credit to Braden, he was in another league and he absolutely stumped it. If he continues to race like that he is going to smash Kona this year.”
Dellow was equally proud of his tough day in the tropical north’s brutal but beautiful IRONMAN office.
“My preparation for this race was absolutely terrible. About three or four weeks ago I looked at the start list and thought if there was a possibility that if all the planets aligned and I used a Ouija board and everything was going my way that I might qualify for Kona.”
“I had a bad swim, a bad ride and a bad run and was hanging on the whole day and grovelled my way over the line for third. It sounds weird to say but it is probably my best race ever, considering everything. Not a great race on paper but I would have to say it is the race I am most proud of, ever.”
Teresa Adam came to Cairns knowing that in the nicest possible way, the two Sarah’s (Crowley and True) were going to try and make her life miserable. But despite their best efforts the patient Aucklander came up trumps yet again.
“It was a tough race and so close all day. I just stuck to my pace and kept going. I’ve have come home with the win and I can’t believe it.”
“The girls went flying off the bike and I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to hold that pace. I knew I couldn’t so just started running my pace. I was catching Sarah True and I saw her fall, so she didn’t finish. It was quite scary initially, but I kept going. Everything in me was screaming to stop but there were so many people with her and offering support straight away. I knew she was in good hands, so I just kept running but it took me a little bit of time to get over it because I was having a rough patch.”
“I just stuck at my pace and when I passed Sarah Crowley she said, ‘Awesome running’ and I just said ‘Thanks mate’ and kept going. All the girls are lovely and it is fun out there because it is a bunch of nice people trying to hurt themselves,” Adam laughed. “I just stuck to my pace and didn’t know what was going to happen. I managed to keep trucking along like a diesel and came through in the end. So, I am really happy and the Kiwi double is awesome.”
The second placed Crowley was under siege in the closing stages from a charging, Kaisa Sali and left nothing out on the run course. Two steps across the finish line the colour drained out of Crowley’s face and her eyes glazed over. She was spent.
“There have only been a few occasions where I have had to hurt that much to hold on. Kona in 2017 and Frankfurt last year. I think it is really good that the girl’s level is so hard that that is the requirement now. We are pushing boundaries all the time. I love racing like that and it is the only way to know where to move forward and improve. What a great day, it was changing all day. It was a really fair and respectful race, it was brilliant. We were all pushing it on the bike and you couldn’t want for a tougher race.”
“I saw Kaisa coming and I thought if I could just drop it down 20 seconds a kilometre I could hold her off. I was in a lot of hurt. But I am proud of myself for holding it together, not falling apart. It was rough for me but I am happy with the result in the end,” she said.
The flying Finn Sali had Crowley in her sights but literally ran out of road and had to settle for a gallant third place.
“I started the run really strongly but I was struggling with my stomach from about 25-35km. But I improved and in the final stages was able to put it all on the table. I was hearing the splits all the time that I was closing but I just couldn’t get there. I came up a bit short. Hopefully I have a ticket to Kona, so that is the main thing,” she said.