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Phuket’s Ironman 70.3 brings in the champs

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PHUKET: Current Ironman 70.3 World Champion Melissa Rollison will participate in the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship at Laguna Phuket on Sunday – in addition to a stellar line-up of elite professional triathletes heading to the island.

Rollison, of Australia, completed her first Ironman 70.3-distance race in September 2010, and in just 12 months has gone on to claim three 70.3 series titles, as well as the prestigious World Championship trophy.

A former steeplechase runner, Rollison took up cycling to maintain her fitness during bouts of running-related injuries. This inevitably led to her first triathlon.

Rollison finished third in last year’s inaugural Asia-Pacific Championship race, but her World Championship title-win in September in Las Vegas proves she is a force to be reckoned with.

She is set to face off against reigning champion Caroline Steffen of Switzerland who has confirmed she will be coming back to Phuket to defend her 2010 title. More than 950 athletes, including 31 pros and nine relay teams, are now registered for the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship.

Other international pros who will compete for top honors include 2011 Laguna Phuket Triathlon champions Massimo Cigana of Italy and Australia’s Belinda Granger; 2011 Ironman 70.3 world champion runner-up Chris Lieto; 10-time Ironman New Zealand Champion Cameron Brown; 2011 Ironman 70.3 winner and talented up-and-comer Paul Matthews; and 2010 ITU Long Distance World Champion Silvain Sudrie.

Professional athletes will compete for a slice of the US$75,000 prize purse, as well as 30 qualifying slots for the 2012 Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and 45 slots for the 2012 Marine Corps Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.

The Asia-Pacific Championship at Laguna is one of only a small number of worldwide Ironman 70.3 triathlons offering 2012 Kona and Las Vega slots for winners of age group categories. Laguna Triathlon Director Debbie Dionysius says, “We’re thrilled to have such a star-studded line-up at this year’s Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship.

The Phuket Gazette and PGTV sponsors the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and wishes all competitors the very best for the 2011 event.

 

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