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Aussies Thompson & Keat Win in Singapore

In one of the closest finishes on the Ironman 70.3 circuit this year, Australia’s Simon Thompson of Team HiPER3 edged out Kiwi pre-race favourite Terenzo Bozzone by a mere 15 seconds to win the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore in a time of 3:55:40.

The win both heralded Thompson’s changeover to 70.3 competition, and made up for his missing out on the Australian Olympic team for Beijing last month.

Bozzone had been touted as the pre-race favourite after winning more 70.3 races this year than anyone else, and true to form, the young Kiwi was quickly out of the water in third place, with Thompson hot on his heels, 10 seconds behind early race leader Pete Jacobs of Australia, who eventually finished third.

After keeping amongst the leaders during the bike leg, which featured a spectacular ultra-fast all-expressway route, Bozzone and Thompson managed to establish a clear lead in the run leg over the rest of the world-class field, which included former Olympian Peter Robertson of Australia, multiple Ironman winner Bryan Rhodes of New Zealand and defending champion Reinaldo Colucci of Brazil and Team TBB.

They were helped somewhat by Colucci’s unexpected pullout after the first lap of the run leg with leg cramps, with the Brazilian well-placed in fifth at that point.

After racing neck-and-neck and stride for stride for practically the entire race, it was Thompson who prevailed in the final stretch to power home to bag the US$8,500 top prize purse.

Completing the double for the Australians was Rebekah Keat, who saw off the challenge of last year’s women’s winner Belinda Grainger, who would place fourth this time round after suffering a punctured tyre, and losing some five minutes while fixing it.

But Keat was a worthy winner of the US$8,500. Her winning time of 4:25:43 was more than four minutes ahead of second-placed New Zealander Gina Ferguson, with fellow Aussie Alison Fitch rounding up the top three in the women’s elite category.

2008 Ironman 70.3 Singapore Results:

     Men          Women  
1 - Simon Thompson 3:55:40    1 - Rebekah Keat 4:25:43
2 - Terenzo Bozzone 3:55:55    2 - Gina Ferguson 4:29:46
3 - Pete Jacobs 3:57:47    3 - Alison Fitch 4:31:45
4 - Peter Robertson 4:03:33    4 - Belinda Granger 4:34:11
5 - Cameron Watt 4:03:45    5 - Naomi Imaizumi 4:35:12

It appears that Team HiPER3 wins the super team shoot out in Singapore against Team TBB with the win by Thompson as Colucci ends the day with a DNF. On the women's side defending Champion Granger holds on and takes fourth place.

It was Thompson’s first victory in Singapore and his maiden trip here, but predictably, he is already thinking about returning to defend his title next year, when the event will move to March 22.

“The conditions make it a really exciting place to race in, the swim leg was beautiful and the bike leg was magnificent,” said Thompson. “I would love to come back next year as the race was so well organized and had such great atmosphere.”

On the close fight with Bozzone, he added: “I wasn’t going to just give it to him obviously. He was happy to give me the lead but kept behind me all the way. I gave everything I could and the last two kilometre felt like forever. But I was really glad to pull up to the line.

“This win makes up for missing out on the Australian Olympic team in Beijing. It was disappointing not to make the team, but I fell that I have really turned it around with this victory.”

Behind Thompson, Bozzone, Jacobs and Robertson it was Cam Watt in fifth.

“I didn’t really expect to win,” admitted Keat after the race. “Belinda and Alison went out really hard and there was not much wind making it really hot. It was my first time racing in these conditions.

“But definitely I look forward to being here next year. It was a great event and I am going to be prepared for the weather next time round.”

So dominant are the Aussies that seven of the top ten men and five of the seven women finishers in the pro category hailed from Down Under, underlining their dominance.

But the Aussies were under fire, as the top Asian performance belonged to Japan’s top Ironman woman racer, Naomi Imaizumi, who finished fifth and recorded the fastest run split in the women’s rqace.

Despite his obvious dismay at being forced to drop out of the race, Colucci had kind words for the winners and the new route. He said: “The winners did a great job, congratulations to them.

“The bike route this year was a big improvement over last year. While I did not complete the run route this time round and so I cannot pass a judgement on it, but from what I could tell, it was good.”

He then threw his name into the hat for next year’s March date when he added: “I hope to be back next year to try and win back my title. March is better for me and I am sure it is it is the same for many of these guys as well.”

The Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore will move to March 22nd in 2009 with entries opening very shortly.
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