Iijima not intimidated by pro triathletes


Guam’s Manami Iijima adjusts her watch as she heads down south during the bike leg of last Saturday’s 29th Tagaman Triathlon 70.3 (Jon Perez)

Guam’s Manami Iijima was just focused on one thing: finish the Half Ironman distance of last Saturday’s Tagaman 70.3 Triathlon.

She just came out to compete and have fun, not worried about the six other women’s pro/elite competitors, five of which were from South Korea. She did not also mind going up against two pros that hold International Triathlon Union world rankings.

“I had no specific goals in my mind. I just want to have fun,” the 25-year-old swimmer-turned triathlete told Saipan Tribune moments after completing the race in an unofficial time of 4:34:40.

Iijima was even third overall, coming in behind men’s winner Tim Law of Hong Kong (4:23:20) and deposed champion Aleksandr Dorovskikh of Russia (4:31:40). She and Dorovskikh won last year’s race with the distance set at 51.50.

“I wasn’t intimidated with any of the racers, because I was focused on myself. I cannot control who are racing and the conditions, so I just focused on what I can do,” added Iijima, who has won almost every major race in Guam. She also placed ninth in her age group in last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dan Bi Hong of South Korea, ranked 321st in the world, finished second with a time of 4:51:10, while compatriot A Reum Jo was third in 4:53:39. Japanese Maki Nishiuchi, currently at No. 114 in the women’s ITU long distance triathlon rankings, failed to clinch a podium finish in her first competition on Saipan.

Having tested last year’s race course also favored Iijima, though this year’s distance was longer. She said that she didn’t encounter any problems in the race. “I didn’t have a difficult spot.”

“Maybe, just in the pre-race when I had mechanical issues on the bike. But Larry [Malig] and John saved my life. I couldn’t be thankful enough for their help,” she said.

But while Iijima had no specific goals, men’s champ Law does, as he is preparing for a number of races that included several qualifying events in the hopes of making it to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

“I hope to represent Hong Kong in the 2020 Olympics. That’s why I’m training hard and I’m also focused in this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta,” said Law, who will be using the Ironman 70.3 in Subic Bay, Philippines in June to prep up for the August Asiad.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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