SUBiC – Belinda Granger of Australia goes for a three-peat as she heads nine other elite pros and over 1,000 local and foreign competitors in the biggest staging of the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon firing off Sunday here.
Granger braces for a fierce battle with Swiss Caroline Steffen, who is coming off her conquest of the Ironman Australia Asia-Pacific tourney in Melbourne last March, and fellow Aussie Jodie Scott, fresh from a seventh place finish in the Challenge Taiwan.
“I’m very excited to come back and go for a third straight title. But I realized Caroline (Steffen) is here. She is a great athlete and so me and I’m sure Jodie (Scott) too and will have to try as hard as we can to prepare,” said Granger, also the winner of Challenge Taiwan and the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in 2013.
Headlining the aspirants in the men’s pro category are topnotch Australians Casey Munro, fifth-placer in the Ironman 70.3 Busselton and Geelong competitions; Eric Watson, ninth-placer in Challenge Taiwan and Challenge Philippines; Justin Granger, runner-up in Challenge Taiwan and fifth-placer in last year’s Century Tuna 5150; and Michael Murphy, runner-up in the2014 Challenge Philippines and third-placer in 2013 Century Tuna 5150.
Expected to contend with them for the crown in the event sponsored by Century Tuna are Slovakian Michael Bucek, the champion of the Bizent Bali International Olympic Distance Triathlon and 2013 70.3 Challenge Taiwan, and Hungarian Simon Agoston, fourth-placer of the 2014 Golden Triangle International Triathlon and winner of the 2013 Hua-hin and Bangkok Triathlon.
A new men’s champion will be crowned today as last year’s winner Luke McKenzie begged off from the race.
“The field is solid even if Luke is not around,” said Murphy. “It’s gonna be a very interesting race for sure.”
Local star Monica Torres, the elite champion of the last two editions of the Century Tuna 5150, carries the fight for the Philippines. She dominated the Asian elite division of the 2014 Challenge Philippines with the veteran campaigner hoping to sustain her momentum going to this competition.
A total of 1,285 pros, age groupers and triathletes will take part in the 2014 edition, doubling the field from last year, according to Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, president and chairman of the organizing Sunrise Events, Inc.
The country’s biggest single Olympic distance ace will stake $10,000 in the pro division and P120,000 in the Filipino elite category of the event backed by Gatorade, Alaska, Aqua Sphere, Timex, Smart Live More, PLDT, Dept. of Tourism, Planet Sports, P&G, Prudential Guarantee, Intercare, The Philippine STAR, DeVant, LBC, Oakley, Subic Bay and GU Roctane.