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Dixon and Thoren flying high

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The world’s shortest triathlon at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Beijing last Saturday received applause from participants and spectators alike, and can be summarised appropriately as sports, fun, food and wine. The competitions were won in great style by Roy Dixon in the men’s category, and Annie Thoren in the women’s.

The Minithlon concept developed by Nordic Ways last year looks set to expand in 2012, after the success of the first 2 events at Beijing’s Swedish flagship hotel Radisson Blu. A number of international triathlon stars took part on Saturday, and ensured a high level of competition. Yet, because the minithlon is so short (17,5 metres of swimming, 288 metres of cycling and 42,195 metres of running) and triathletes are traditionally endurance athletes full of slow twitch muscle fibers, the stars of the race were pushed to their limits and upsets were in the air all afternoon! In total, the participants' field saw people from seven different nationalities.

 

The men’s tournament was won by the charismatic Roy Dixon from Zimbabwe (!). After being spotted carrying an IronMan bag at the Radisson the night before, he was very happy to join the competition before he had to fly out of Beijing again only a few hours later. And flying out can be taken literally here, as Roy Dixon is an A380 pilot from Emirates Airlines! Dixon entered the final as race favourite after convincingly winning the heats and semi finals with the fastest time overall. However, coming out of the swimming pool, it was China’s Iron Man star Dang Qi leading the field that also included Sweden’s Michael Thoren, China’s Wang Yan and last year’s winner and defending champion Robert Webb from Great Britain. Jumping on the bikes for the tour around the hotel, Dixon grabbed control of the race and claimed victory in the quickest time of the entire day! Behind him, a fierce battle went on between Dang Qi and Michael Thoren for second place. Thoren, father of Annie Thoren and a Swedish triathlon legend, came to Beijing in superb shape after completing the Hamburg Vatenfall Cyclassics granfondo cycling event in Germany in less than 4 hours two weeks ago. He caught up with Dang Qi on the bike and outsprinted him in the final run to the line to take second place. Wang Yan came close to the podium in fourth place, whereas Robert Webb had to admit defeat after finishing a bit further back in fifth place.

 

The level of competition was high and a number of strong athletes were eliminated during the semi finals. One of those was Sweden’s Fredrik Persson, a former Vasaloppet China XC skiing champion.

The women’s competition saw Sweden’s 2011 national champion Annie Thoren take a cautious start of the afternoon during the heats, to the extent that a few of her competitors started dreaming of causing an upset. Singapore’s Greta Georges came close to Thoren’s best time in the heats, but unfortunately then lost control of her bike in the semi final. As such, the final race was contested between Thoren, the Czech Republic’s Marcela Havlova -who made a stumble during the heats but looked strong in the semis - and the Chinese trio of Coco Kou, Wang Dan Yi and Shi Chai, all of whom were keen on giving the Swedish champion a run for her money. But when the pressure was on the most, Thoren displayed great professional maturity and had the race completely under control from the get-go. Battling hard for second-place, Havlova managed to outrun Kou and Dan Ryi, who stumbled in the final metres. Chai did well in fifth place.

After the award ceremony, the Beijing Minithlon was concluded with a delicious BBQ buffet party in the hotel garden, and strategic plans were plotted among participants for next year’s 3rd edition of the Minithlon at the Radisson Blu.