This morning’s activities in Taiwan started at SongShan Sport Center where athletes were given the opportunity to swim in the 50-meter pool and run on the outdoor track while media photographed their fine-tuning training sessions. Next everyone gathered for a press conference made especially lively by our entertaining emcee and translator. The athletes in attendance included Dylan McNiece (NZL), Jamie Whyte (NZL), Ben Hammond (AUS), Petr Vabrousek (CZE), Guy Crawford (NZL), Justin Granger (AUS), Georg Potrebitsch (GER), Belinda Granger (AUS), Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) and Jenny Li (TW). Here’s a bit of what they had to say:
Crawford and Bevilaqua (on their expectations for their performances):
Crawford: If I can keep ahead of Belinda and Kate and Jenny here that would be a pretty good result! There’s some hot competition here, so for me a top five would be great. I’d be really happy with that.
Bevilaqua: If I can improve on performances that I’ve done before, that’s always the goal. If I can be top three on the podium that would be a great result for me.
The Grangers (on why they’re excited to race in Taiwan):
Belinda: This is my third time to Taiwan for various competitions, and probably the best thing is how organized everyone and everything is, down to the smallest details. As athletes all we have to do is show up and race, and it’s really phenomenal!
Justin: I haven’t been to the actual race venue, but the parts of Taiwan I have seen are just beautiful. I’ve heard so many positive things about Taitung that I’m really looking forward to seeing it and racing there.
(On their relationship and racing together):
Belinda: We do train quite a bit together, and while I coach myself and he coaches himself we bounce ideas and advice off of each other. And we get to travel the world doing what we love! As soon as we heard this race was happening we jumped at the chance. I think this will be the first of many amazing Challenge races in Asia.
Justin: The sport has given the two of us such amazing experiences, and we get to have them together. It’s a no brainier–I get to spend all the best times in life with my best mate, and that’s what Belinda is!
Hammond (on choosing Challenge Taiwan as his long distance debut): One of my best mates growing up was Taiwanese, so I was drawn to it for that reason. Plus all the great things I’ve heard about Challenge events made it an easy choice.
McNiece (on whether he views Whyte as a dangerous competitor after the pair went one-two at Challenge Wanaka): Yes! He’s definitely dangerous! He’s a really great cyclist and a strong runner, so if it’s windy and there are some rolling hills he’ll definitely be dangerous.
Whyte (answering the same question that was posed to McNiece): He is! I’ve been rooming with him and he’s definitely dangerous. He’s a very good athlete and a great swimmer. He had a great race at his first full distance and showed what a talent he is. There’s no such thing as a fluke in iron distance, so I’m sure we’ll see again on the weekend what a great athlete he is.
Potrebitsch (on how prepared he feels and how he’s adapting to Taiwan): I think I’m good prepared for this event. The food here is something new for me, but last night we went to a good dinner and I liked the food. It’s going better and better every day here, so I think in four more days I will be a resident!
Vabrousek (on how he keeps going–Challenge Taiwan will be his 125th iron-distance race): I just never give up. I just keep going and keep going until there is a finish line. So that is easy, really. I just love the event. At the finish I am already looking for the next one. I think I also got a lot of mental power from very early in my life and that helps.
(His response when the emcee nicknamed him the King of Triathlon and asked whether he had the confidence to win this weekend): I didn’t have the confidence until now, but now that you call me King I do! And I hope that everyone here realizes it’s not proper to beat the king. So just show some respect and wait for the smiling one!
Li (on welcoming her fellow competitors to Taiwan): As the Challenge Taiwan ambassador I’m very happy to welcome you all to Taiwan. It’s very important not to forget to make friends here and bring our love home to your country.
(On her hopes for her performance): I will try my best to get first place for myself and my country. I hope that my competitors all have a very nice time here–it is a beautiful place and we have very nice people here so I wish that they enjoy it–but I will try to keep the championship in Taiwan!
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