ABU DHABI //Nikki Butterfield, the winner of the women's race in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, said the prize money gave her the extra motivation she needed for the final push across the finish line.
The Australian lagged behind in the opening swimming stage but worked her way up the order in the 200km cycling leg before leading the way in the running leg to win in a record time of seven hours and 22 seconds, pocketing the first-place prize of US$50,000 [Dh183,500]. Canada's Angela Naeth improved from her fifth place last year to finish second and collect $20,000.
"With that kind of difference anybody would put that extra effort to cross the finishing line first," Butterfield said. "I didn't expect to win but felt on a good day could have won, like today."
The victory was her first major success since she won the Under 23 World Championship in New Zealand in 2003 and she celebrated by hugging her 14-month daughter, Savanah.
Naeth beat Caroline Steffen, from Switzerland, into second place.
"It was a big improvement to be on the podium," Naeth said. "It is an amazing event in Abu Dhabi, and when I came here for the first time last year, I thought I will prepare for this race for better when I arrive next time. It was a tactical race. Nikki and I were racing together in the cycling stage, which is her strongest discipline. She pushed hard at a certain point and I went with her, but she had me struggling the second time around and within five seconds she opened up a lead. She held that advantage until the end."
Butterfield concurred her strongest disciplines were the last two.
"I'm always behind in the swim stage and then make up for it in the cycling and running stages," she said. "It panned out well for me. I was in front with 40km left in the cycling stage and then consolidated that lead all the way to the line."
Australia's Melissa Rollison was fourth and the Briton, Rachel Joyce of the Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team, was fifth, more than six minutes behind the winner.