KUALA LUMPUR: Former world champion Faris Al Sultan of Germany and American Chris Lieto will be the two big names to watch out for in this year’s Langkawi Ironman on Feb 23.
The 30-year-old Al Sultan, of German-Iraqi parentage, won the World Ironman Championships title in Kona, Hawaii, in 2005 and finished third the following year.
American Lieto also comes with high credentials, having finished 13th in the world meet in Kona last year.
Al Sultan and Lieto are here under the sponsorship of PowerBar International.
“The presence of these two world class athletes will make the Langkawi Ironman more interesting and challenging,” said Mohd Rahimi Abdullah, the PowerBar International business development manager, yesterday.
“We will also send our sponsored athletes, better known as the PowerBar elite team, to the gruelling race.”
The PowerBar team will be spearheaded by former national cyclist Wong Ah Thiam, who finished 323rd out of the 1,800 world-class triathletes who competed in the world meet in Kona in 2006.
The other members of the team are Dr Fiona Tan, Don Khor, Hairul Azwar, Cecil Cheong, Ngae Koh Hieng and Mejar Kalam Pie.
Langkawi Ironman race director A. Chandrakumanan said this year’s race would see athletes running on the Padang Masirat Highway for the first time.
“So far 750 athletes from 38 countries have confirmed their participation,” said Chandrakumanan, who said that they hoped to attract more athletes before the closing date on Feb 16.
He confirmed that the men’s and women’s defending champions – Xavier LeFlach of France and Nicole Leder of Germany – would not be returning due to family commitments.
The Ironman involves three disciplines – swimming for 3.8km, cycling 180km and a marathon run of 42.2km.
An athlete needs to finish the race in 17 hours to qualify for the Ironman certificate.