x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Sultan's eye on Hawaii

Abu Dhabi team captain is confident and plans to ensure qualifiers are in top condition when they line up for world championships.

After a memorable one-two finish in Sunday's Ironman Regensberg, Faris al Sultan is upbeat while talking of the future.
After a memorable one-two finish in Sunday's Ironman Regensberg, Faris al Sultan is upbeat while talking of the future.

ABU DHABI // After a memorable one-two finish in Sunday's inaugural Ironman Regensberg, Faris al Sultan and Andi Bocherer have turned their thoughts to planning the Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team's end-of-season assault on the Hawaii world championships. Al Sultan, whose 2005 world title earned him a lifetime invite to the Kona showpiece, crossed the finish line first in Germany in a relatively quick time of 8hrs 13mins 37secs. Bocherer, the leader for most of the race, followed five minutes later.

"Mentally it's always good to get positive results, especially after my poor season last year," al Sultan said. "It was important that I proved to myself that everything still works and I can still win races. It wasn't my greatest performance, but it was strong enough. It was a great result for Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team because we were out of the water first, had the fastest bike split and got the overall win."

Having passed Bocherer, the then-leader, with just 5km left in the race-ending 40km run, al Sultan, the team's captain, confessed to an overwhelming sense of relief that high finishes have started to come for the team backed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. "I'm relieved because we're finally getting results," he said. "You can't win all the time, but as professionals it is vital that we're competitive. Things are going well following all the injuries we had earlier this season and we will have a strong team for Hawaii.

"We have individual training regimes for Kona, but about a month before the race we'll all get together in Los Angeles and start our final preparations as a team." Bocherer, whose sole previous world championships appearance came in 2008, becomes the outfit's third professional qualifier in the men's event, joining al Faris and Sven Sundberg. "It's a wonderful result and I'm really excited," said Bocherer, who was disqualified two years ago for an illegal drafting manoeuvre on the 120km bike section. "My swim went OK, but not fantastic. I was a minute behind Faris when I left the water, but I took the lead on the bike quite early in and then I pulled away. I had a four-minute lead after the bike, but I started suffering badly about 20km in the run. Faris caught me after about 35km, but I still finished a comfortable second."

With memories from Bocherer's last Hawaii experience still fresh in his mind, the German is confident he can lay the ghosts of disqualification to rest. "I'm really keen to have a good race this time around and I'm aiming for a top-20 finish," Bocherer said. "If everything goes right I think it is achievable and I'll be tailoring my preparations to ensure I'm as fit as possible. Qualifying so early is good for my training; now I can plan my Kona regime to ensure I'm at my peak."

Al Faris and Bocherer agreed that careful planning is required to ensure the team's championship qualifiers are in top condition when they line up for the Hawaii event on October 9. "It can take a lot of you, having an Ironman so late in the season, so next week I'll sit down and think about my training for Kona," al Sultan said. @Email:emegson@thenational.ae