THE ninth edition of the Ironman Malaysia Triathlon in Langkawi on Feb 23 has attracted a record 800 triathletes from 38 countries but the men's and women's defending champions are not among them.
Race director A. Chandrankumanan said Le Floch and Nicole cited family commitments for giving Langkawi a miss this year.
"The defending men's and women's champions will not be in Langkawi as they both have had a birth of a child in their respective families recently," said Chandrankumanan after a sponsorship presentation ceremony with Powerbar in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
However, the 2008 race, involving a 3.8km swim, 180.2km of cycling and a marathon run, has received the most number of entries in its nine-year history.
This year's local challenge will again be spearheaded by Malaysia's top triathletes Wong Ah Thiam (who finished 89th in 11 hours and 20 minutes after a tyre puncture last year) and Dr Fiona Lim, who won the women's 35-39 age group and ended 149th overall in 12:23:18s.
The competition offers US$50,000 (RM170,000) in prize money with 35 qualifying places to the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October. Two tickets to Kona are reserved for the best placed Malaysian man and woman.