Just when you think you're tough enough



A new champion was crowned at the Singapore T100 as Dutch wildcard Youri Keulen claimed his first T100 victory on Sunday (April 14). The exciting race in Marina Bay also saw T100 No. 5 Sam Long charge to second after coming out of the swim last and serving a 30-second penalty, while Belgian Pieter Heemeryck finished third.

The day kicked off with races for amateurs, who tackled the 100km triathlon or one of two duathlon distances. The Standard Duathlon comprised a 5km Run, 32km Bike and another 5km Run, while Long Distance had a 9.5km Run, 64km Bike and 9.5km Run.

Among the participants was Singapore’s first and only Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, who took part in the Standard Duathlon Team Relay alongside Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung and Member of Parliament Poh Li San. Ms Poh ran both 5km legs, while Mr Ong and Schooling shared the 32km bike course.

Schooling said: “That was a lot of fun. In swimming, you can’t really see your surroundings, but at least for this one, I could enjoy my atmosphere. There were a lot of challenging parts out there with a lot of fun parts coming down the hills, but overall it’s my first time doing something like this and it exceeded my expectations. Maybe I’ll go for the run next time, we’ll finish out the trio of events over three years. It’s a 5km run so why not, but I would also consider biking again.

“(These kinds of events are) absolutely important. If you want to build the sporting ecosystem, these are the kinds of events that we need to throw. And I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. There are always other events out there but for what we have right now, the time frame, (we’re) doing a sublime job. So it encourages the young ones, you see so many kids out here today. That’s the pipeline right? That’s the future of the sport. Not just in triathlon, but everything around you. I love seeing people and families come out.”

Past and present Team Singapore athletes also took part in the triathlon team relay for experienced amateurs with the team of Ritchie Oh, Calvin Sim and Daniel Leow topping the men’s category. In the mixed team relay, Liam Chan, Yeo Boon Kiak and Serena Teoh finished second ahead of Luke Tan, Goh Choon Huat and Jasmine Goh in third.

Thrilling Pro race saw first-time champion crowned

Later in the afternoon, Keulen gave it everything he had in the Men’s Pro Race, taking the lead early in the bike leg and never looking back. His competitors behind changed positions fairly often, but Keulen kept his composure and sustained his healthy lead throughout the run, even as T100 No. 5 Long was surging up the field in the final stage after exiting the water last.

Keulen, 25, said: “I’m delighted with the win, but I’m exhausted.” Keulen promptly collapsed after crossing the finish line and immediately received medical attention. He is well taken care of and will be back on his feet soon. After finishing fourth in the season opener in Miami last month, the win will be a boost of confidence for Keulen.

Meanwhile, Long was in high spirits, hyping the crowd up and celebrating as he jumped across the finish line energetically. The American is still seeking a first T100 win after finishing second in the Miami T100.

He said: “(It was an) excellent race. Believe it or not, I was quite happy with (my swim). I just paced it and focused on keeping my body temperature cool because if you get overheated there, it’s a long day. I’ve always been known for biking strong, but I didn’t really show that so much on the bike. I think my bike was still impressive and strong and I got myself into the race on the bike but it’s the run that I think I really showcased my strength and to be honest, I was just having a super fun day out there and just in my own zone, in my own process, in the flow state. And it just all came together. I tried not to think about what the gap was. On the bike especially you got to see everyone twice per lap, right? So it’s very obvious. It really puts it right in your face how far back you are. But I actually said to myself: ‘Don’t look at how far back they are, just execute your mission and see what happens by the end of the day.’

“I think on the penalty… It’s up to me on how to react to it. And I would say it didn’t break my momentum at all. Well, there were two brief moments of panic. One was finding out I had a penalty. The second was figuring out where to serve the penalty because I wasn’t sure and then the third was actually when the two guys behind me came by when I was in the penalty like ‘Oh no, now I’m back in a race. I’m not even on the podium right now’. But I just used it to compose myself and get the crowd pumped up and carry on with my day.

“And I just want to say thank you so much to the city of Singapore. I’ve received such a warm welcome and it’s been great to visit here and it’s a marvelous, beautiful city. So thank you guys. I’m living my dream. I’ve come way farther than I thought I would come. Well, I thought I would come this far, but it’s happened faster than I thought and to see the love that the crowd gives me just makes my heart warm and just makes me so happy. Of course to achieve an accomplishment like this, just twice in a month. It just makes me very happy and I’m riding the wave and don’t worry, there is a crash at some point. It’s probably coming in like 24 or 36 hours and then I will suffer for a little while.”

Heemeryck, who finished second at the inaugural PTO Asian Open last year, settled for third but is determined to improve on his result next year.

He said: “Last year I was a little bit better, but maybe it is earlier in the season so I’m not in the shape that I had hoped to be in already. But it’s a long season and I’ve finished two times on the podium here so it’s very good. But second to third, so next time I have to come back for first.

“It’s much more fun (with more races this season). It will be a very big season, but it’s only the second race. I look forward to the next races, but I hope next year I can be part of the series again so I can race here again. Singapore is something special now after finishing on the podium two times.”

How The Race Unfolded

In sweltering overcast conditions, last-minute Wildcard Josh Amberger led the first lap of the 2km swim with the likes of Alistair Brownlee and Kyle Smith in close contention. On the second lap, Aaron Royle took to the front and led into T1. Meanwhile, Sam Long – 2nd in the Miami T100 – left the water last with over four minutes to make up and was also given a 30-sec penalty for leaving his swim kit out of the box during transition.

Once on the bike, there was plenty of chopping and changing early on before T100 Wildcard Keulen pushed his way to the front and went on the attack. He soon put a minute into the chasers, which included fellow wildcards Mika Noodt and Kyle Smith as well as Brownlee (fifth in Miami) and Heemeryk.

The other rider attacking the bike with gusto was Sam Long, who began to rip his way through the field – making it into the top 10 with 20km to go.

In pole position, Keulen was holding just over one minute on the chase group and took that onto the 18km run, speeding away to widen his lead.

Behind, as the chase group entered T2, a late dismount from Brownlee meant the double Olympic champion was handed a 30-second penalty. Serving it after making it to the podium places, the Brit was soon reduced to a walk, then stretched his calf, before succumbing to a DNF.

Off the bike in eighth place with 3min 20sec to leader Keulen, Long was fastest on the run course and made up 90 seconds by 12km to pick off the competition, overtaking Heemeryck to take 2nd place. Serving his penalty at the start of the final lap and dropping to fourth, he stayed calm and was soon back in second. Behind, David McNamee was the other fast mover, making up eight places during the run.

There was no doubt as to who would take the tape, however. In a breakthrough performance, Keulen gave everything he had to secure victory, collapsing over the line to take a US$25,000 (S$34,027) paycheck, score the maximum 35 points and jump to the top of the T100 series standings.

Long’s tenacious and powerful performance saw him take second again and another US$16,000 in the bank and add 28 points to his T100 series tally, putting him just one point behind Keulen.

Heemeryck held strong for third place, US$12,000 and 25 points.

Singapore T100 men’s Pro Race Standings:

  1. Youri Keulen – 3hr 21min 01sec
  2. Sam Long – 3:22:38
  3. Pieter Heemeryck – 3:23:30
  4. David McNamee – 3:26:03
  5. Kyle Smith – 3:26:57