Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kimbeley a step closer to Olympics

Top triathlete Kimbeley Yap brightened her hopes of making it to the Olympics with an impressive sixth-placed finish in the ITU Asian Cup in Chonburi on Sunday.

Kimbeley, competing in the elite women’s category, was fourth after the 1.5km swim leg.

She continued to stay within sight of the leaders to end her first major assignment for the year in 2’03:45.

Besides the swim leg, a triathlete also has to cycle 40km and run 10km.

Considering that Kimbeley clocked 2’12:14 en route to retaining her SEA Games title in Korat last year, the 23-year-old surely has good reasons to be pleased with her season-best performance.

“The course was slightly different because we were swimming downstream and finishing faster. But they made it up with a little bit longer bike and run routes.

“Nevertheless, I’m very happy with my time because I finished ahead of the Kazakhstan and Hong Kong competitors, who are also fighting for the extra Asian slot for the Olympics,” said the former national swimmer, whose half-brother Daniel Bego has already qualified for the swimming competition in the Beijing Olympics in August.

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) will award one place to the highest ranked Asian, whose country has yet to earn a quota spot in the Olympics.

Kimbeley, who had a month-long training stint in Sydney earlier in the year, also achieved her target of finishing within eight per cent of the winning time in the Asian Cup.

Rosie Clarke of Britain won the race ahead of two Japanese competitors in 2’00:26.

Kimbeley should know whether she will be the first Malaysian to take part in the triathlon competition in the Olympics by July.

Her next assignment is the Asian Championships in Guangzhou in May.

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