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Bahrain Victorious 13 dominated Ironman 70.3 Melbourne with its two Kiwi powerhouses: Hayden Wilde and Amelia Watkinson topped the men’s and women’s fields respectively, writes Lisa Pringle.
Wilde made a smashing debut over the middle distance with a wire-to-wire victory, recording the day’s best splits over swim, bike, and run. The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist swam the modified 800-metre course in 11:32, cycled 90km in 1:56:37, and then ran the half-marathon in 1:08:01 to stop the clock at 3:19:29, nearly eight minutes ahead of the nearest competitor.
With this victory, Wilde has now clinched his spot at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand next year - a hometown race and a main target after the Paris Olympic Games.
“What a way to finish the season, absolutely fizzing about this one, and proud of the way I attacked the race,” said Wilde.
“Exciting to know personally there is more to give out on course, which has given me a big confidence booster heading into world champs next year,” he added.
The race for Watkinson was a different storyline, but with the same end result: a win and a world’s spot at the home race. She emerged eighth out of the swim with a 2:44 deficit to the leader, then made her way up the field to finish the bike leg, with the day’s fastest split in fifth and only 41 seconds back. Watkinson moved into second halfway through the half-marathon, then surged to the front in the final kilometre to log the day’s fastest run and clinch the victory.
“I had to dig deep for that one,” said Watkinson. “But that’s the best kind of racing. I’m proud of putting a solid race together; landing the top step feels pretty good.”