Friday, November 16, 2007

Duathlon: Versatile Mariana eyeing a golden debut

Mariana (344) leading Analiza Dysangco (345) and Kimbeley Yap (346)
in the first 11km run leg of Powerman Malaysia 2007

BOOSTED by a superb showing in the Malakoff Powerman Malaysia duathlon in Seri Manjung, Perak, on Sunday, Mariana Mohammad (pic) is set for a golden debut in the Korat Sea Games next month.

Mariana finished ahead of her Southeast Asian rivals -- Analiza Dysangco of the Philippines and Jeanette Wong of Singapore -- in the Malakoff Powerman Malaysia duathlon despite suffering from severe stomach cramps.

She came in fourth in Seri Manjung after completing the 11km run-64km bike-10km run course in three hours, 23 minutes and 51 seconds.

But Mariana, a 29-year-old mother of two, is playing down her chances of winning gold in Pattaya, where duathlon will be held, despite being installed as the early favourite.

"I'm going there with no expectations of winning medals other than to do my best and make my country and family proud," said Mariana at a post-Powerman Malaysia press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
A former triathlon participant, Mariana switched to duathlon after learning of the sport's inclusion in the Sea Games.

"I was never very good at swimming so I decided to try the duathlon instead. I started to train really hard this year when I found out it was included in the Sea Games.

"I was determined to compete in the Sea Games and nothing was going to stop me."

Mariana laid down her marker as a serious contender for the Sea Games gold after defeating Analiza to win the Phillipines National Open Duathlon Championships in June.

"Analiza will again be my main rival at the Sea Games. I just need to be able to keep pace with her during the run as she is a better runner while I'm more comfortable on the bike.

"She knows this and will try to open a lead during the first run. I'll have to chase her down on the bike before going flat out on the final run," said Mariana, whose brother Mohamad Heidilee is also in the national triathlon Sea Games team.

The Sea Games event is over a shorter distance than the Powerman Malaysia, consisting of a 10km run-40km bike-5km run course, which Mariana said would be to her disadvantage.

"The shorter distance favours Analiza, as the bike run is shorter. I will just have to work out a proper strategy," she said.

Shahrom Abdullah is Malaysia's leading men duathlon athlete after finishing seventh in the Powerman Malaysia, one spot behind Sea Games favourite Ryan Mendoza of the Philippines.

"I was devastated after the race as I had hoped to come in ahead of Ryan," he said.

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