Why it matters: Former champions Sarah Crowley and Kylie Simpson are set to face off in a tight women's race at the Cairns Airport Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship this Sunday.
Setting the pace: Crowley and Simpson have won the last six Ironman races held in Australia, a streak which started at Ironman Cairns two years ago. Despite a recent injury, Crowley returns as the defending champion, while Simpson enters fresh off a victory at last month's Ironman Australia.
What they're saying:
- "I'm really happy with the progress and have been managing full Ironman load for four weeks." - Sarah Crowley
- "I’ve worked very hard on my bike and am excited to see what a stronger bike does for my run." - Sarah Crowley
- “I’m feeling great, my preparation for Cairns has been smooth sailing with progression across swim, bike and run, so I am excited to be able to put this all together on race day.” - Kylie Simpson
- "I’m definitely excited, I had a great race here last year and I am hoping to have a great race again this year.” - Radka Kahlefeldt, another frontrunner for the championship.
By the numbers:
- 6 - The number of consecutive Ironman races won by Crowley and Simpson in Australia.
- 3 - The number of Ironman events won by each athlete in Australia.
- 5 - Weeks since Sarah Crowley's injury.
Between transition: Other contenders include Canberra’s Penny Slater, who secured her spot at the 2023 Ironman World Championship with a third-place finish at Ironman South Africa in March. There's also Kate Gillespie-Jones, a former AFLW player now making her debut as a professional triathlete.
Through Time: Crowley, who was the first professional to win all three Australian events in a year, has displayed remarkable consistency. Simpson, on the other hand, won the 2021 Cairns race and recently took the bike course record at Ironman Australia.
The bottom line: With former champions, up-and-coming athletes, and one making a high-profile switch from AFLW, this Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship promises to be a thrilling competition and an important stepping stone towards the World Championship in Hawai’i.