LAGUNA PHUKET: Once again, Australian competitors dominated this year’s 8th Thai Airways Laguna Phuket Triathlon, taking first and second places in both men’s and women’s competitions. Twenty-two-year-old Courtney Atkinson, from Australia, stormed in first to claim victory in an overall unofficial time of 2 hours, 30 minutes and 37 seconds. “It’s the nicest place I’ve ever raced,” Atkinson said afterwards. “I was thinking throughout the race, ‘What am I doing racing? I should be out sightseeing.’ The crowd was absolutely wonderful, and it’s the most wonderful course I’ve ever raced on.” Atkinson was less than four minutes ahead of fellow Australian Miles Stewart, 30, who finished with a time of 2:34.20. Normann Stadler, 27, of Germany, came third in 2:35.37. Last year’s winner, Craig Walton of Australia, came fourth with a time of 2:44.18. Last year’s women’s winner, Joanne King, made it two in a row. The 25-year-old Australian finished with an unofficial time of 2:51.26, ahead of Belinda Granger, 30, also of Australia (2:58.23) and Heather Fuhr, 32, of Canada (3:00.10). A delighted King said, “It was a very difficult course, tougher than last year.” The first Thai to complete the course, which consisted of back-to-back swimming, cycling and running races, was Pol Lt Suppachai Unasing, who finished 25th overall with a time of 3:10.08. Lt Suppachai, who was born in Nongkhai, is a police officer in Cha’am, Petchaburi. He told the Gazette, “This is the fifth time I’ve competed, and today was not my best time. But they started the race later than in previous years, so it was very hot. “I’ve been training hard for a month, so I was confident I could win. I’ll be back next year.” The first Thai woman to complete the course, in 185th place, was Ratchaburi dentist Peeranuch Eamsuwan, 36, in a time of 4:07.19. A total of 388 competitors took part. Note: All times given in this report are unofficial.
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