BANGTAO: Australian Marc Lees returned to reinforce his dominance of the Thai Airways Laguna Phuket Triathlon with another triumph in the event this year. His win of 2:29:45 h over nearest rivals New Zealander John Newsom (2:30:26 h) and Canadian Peter Reid (2:31:00 h) was not unexpected. But the 27-year-old pro confessed he was not cruising. “It was a hard race. I had a headache at the end of the bike segment and knew the run was going to be tough. I had to dig deep. The others were strong, but I wanted to defend my title. I am happy to have won.” Marc is currently at the beginning of his race year. “This is only my second race of the season, so I am still fresh compared with the others, who are at the end of their season. My preparations are all centered around the Olympics Trials in April. There are only three positions on the team, but there are eight of us [competing for those places], so it’s going to be tough.” Fellow Australian Jackie Gallagher scored a hat trick with her 2:42:36 h win in the pro women’s section. Australian Robyn Roocke was second (2:49:38 h) and American Lori Bowden, third (2:51:50 h). Jackie was a very happy woman. “This is my favorite race. It’s a good way to finish the season. I came to the race tired, but it seems every time I am in it I have to win.” The 31-year-old said that she had a great, though tiring, season, and that she was ready to enjoy a three-month break before starting again in February. The biggest target currently in her sights is Olympic gold in Sydney next year. The first seven pro male and first seven female winners split a total purse of US$30,000. The men’s amateur winner was Romuald Lepers of France (2:39:47 h), while the women’s overall amateur winner was yet another Australian, Robyn Scott (23:01:37 h). The first Thai athlete to finish was Bunluelak Doungdun, who clocked 2:56:46 h to come in 38th overall. The first Thai woman to finish was Napaporn Boontham (3:47:21 h). Each received 10,000 baht.
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