PETALING JAYA: The entries did not reach the targeted mark of 1,000 but the ninth edition of the Langkawi Ironman Triathlon will not be short of excitement.
When entries closed yesterday, the cast was made complete with former world champion Faris Al-Sultan (pic) of Germany leading the assault.
Over 800 athletes from 38 countries will swim 3.8km from Kuah Bay to Jetty Point, cycle 180km from Kuah to Ayer Hangat, and run a full marathon of 42.2km to Dataran Lang in Kuah on Feb 23.
Faris, who will be competing in Malaysia for the first time, can expect a strong challenge from Bulgaria’s Luc Vandjedear.
The Bulgarian is the only competitor to have completed the endurance run in under eight hours and will definitely give the German a run for his money.
Australians Rebecca Paterson and Belinda Granger (pic) are likely to turn the women’s competition into a two-horse race.
Paterson is the 2002 world champion and Granger is the world No. 4.
Malaysia’s challenge will be led by Wong Ah Thiam and Dr Fiona Lim.
Yesterday, Liem Sdn Bhd (the organisers of the event) president and chief executive officer Datuk Sri Ram Sharma said: “This is one of the qualifying races for the World Championships (in Kona, Hawaii in October). Thirty-five slots are up for grabs. In fact, Malaysia’s top men and top women are guaranteed places in the world meet.”
Yesterday, the organisers received sponsorship pledges from Power Bar, RTM, Eau Claire, Banana Boat, Sea View Langkawi, Red Bull, High Five, ING Insurance, Synergy Performance, Celebrity Fitness, Trail Tree, Bike Boutique and ASI.