PANAJI: Bishworjit Singh Saikhom of the Indian Army created history as he finished first in India’s first-ever IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon held here in Goa on Sunday. The 29-year-old based in Pune working as Havildar with the Bombay Sappers completed the gruelling distance of 1.9km swim, 90km cycling and 21 kms run with an impressive time of 4 hours 42 minutes 44 seconds much ahead of India’s Nihal Baig, an alumni of IIT Bombay, who clocked 4 hours 47 minutes 47 seconds to finish second.
The inaugural edition of the event was a memorable outing for the Indians as the third triathlete to cross the finish-line was Mahesh Lourembam, a native of Manipur, who pushed seasoned triathlete Pablo Erat of Switzerland who was billed as the top contender of the event to the fourth place. Lourembam finished the race with a time of 4 hours 52 minutes while Erat reached the finish line at 4 hours 56 minutes on the clock.
“It was my aim to defeat Pablo for many years. I completed in the 2015 triathlon in Goa where Pablo was the winner. He has been consistently winning over the past few years and it was really my aim to beat him here in this race. I am very happy I was the first person to reach the finish line,” said an elated Saikhom who has been a professional triathlete and has finished on the podium in the Olympic-distance triathlon Open Nationals. “This is my first-ever IRONMAN 70.3 Goa and my performance here surely gives me the confidence to do well in future triathlon events. Getting sponsored by Recreational Triathlon Club in Pune has helped me a lot for this race and they also helped me buy a quality cycle to race,” he added. Saikhom with his performance has received an invitation to participate in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand next year.
While Saikhom, Mahesh and Pablo emerged out of the 1.9kms swim together, it was Likith SP – international medallist in swimming who was the first to get out of the water at 25 minutes from the flag-off time. He was over 5 minutes ahead of the rest of the pack.
It was heartening to witness the sports-loving Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant cheer the participants emerge out of the sea swim at Miramar Beach. He was also joined by Admiral Philipose G Pynumootil, flag officer, commanding Naval Area. “The IRONMAN 70.3 Goa has seen participants from 27 countries taking part in this event. It is a matter of great pride that this event being organised in India for the first time was hosted in Goa. It is a great example for sports tourism and we will continue to promote such events to be held here,” stated Dr Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister, Government of Goa.
Meanwhile, it was no surprise that Natascha Badman, 6-time World Champion, lived up to the billing as she was the first woman to make it to the finish line and was placed overall 7th in the race.
Policy Bazaar CEO finishes first in Team event
In the team event category, Delhi’s Juggernauts comprising Adit Dahiya (swim), Yashish Dahiya (cycling) and Pankkaj Dhiman (run) finished first. Yashish Dahiya, 47, CEO of Policy Bazaar is a veteran triathlete who has earlier participated in full-distance IRONMAN events across the world. “This was a very exciting race and the support we got from the crowds was incredible. They kept pushing us all along the course.
My last IRONMAN 70.3 was in Dubai in February this year. We have been training as a team for the past six months and I think it paid off as we were almost 20minutes ahead of the second finisher in team event,” stated Yashish.
Top 10 in Overall ranking & Timing:
- B Saikhom (India): 04:42:44
- Nihal Baig (India): 04:47:47
- M Lourembam (India): 04:52:04
- Pablo Erat (Switzerland): 04:56:24
- P Ravalu (India): 04:57:54
- Scott Wilson (Australia): 05:15:44
- C Wheeler (Great Britain): 05:18:09
- A Kandipuppa (India): 05:19:38
- N Kulkarni (India): 05:23:29
- D Crassier (France): 05:26:50