Tall and light framed Eng Lin made his absolute fitness count in winning yesterday's inaugural Phnom Penh International Duathlon ahead of his Rithy Sen Club colleagues.
Enthusiasm among participants and curious onlookers was reasonably high when a field of around 600 gathered before NagaWorld for a 7am start in five different categories.
The men's 18 to 40 years old section was the day's stellar attraction and produced a finish worthy of its status.
Eng Lin was handily placed in the initial 5-kilometre run and he was among the early birds to grab his bike for a 20-kilo-metre stretch.
Maintaining a steady tempo on the pedals throughout the eight laps around NagaWorld and Diamond Island, Eng Lin broke into a clear advantage heading for the 2.5-kilometre concluding run.
But in the end, he had to stave off a determined bid by his club-mate Kang Thorun.
Eng Lin timed 1 hour, 3 minutes and 0.6 seconds for the Kingdom’s first duathlon, which had a course measuring half of international standards.
Rithy Sen Club's stronghold on the race was driven home when Phan Sopheak managed a podium finish. Barely a few seconds separated the winner from the vanquished in the women's 18 to 40 years old category.
Heng Siv Gech, representing Kong Kos (Flying Bicycles) club, timed her sectionals well, especially the cycling leg of 10 kilometres between two spells of 2.5 kilometre road running.
The day’s three other categories were also run over this distance.
Heng Siv Gech checked in at 1 hour, 5 minutes and 4 seconds while Sieng Soriyarangsey, who threw a strong challenge, was about seven seconds slower. Yi Wei was outclassed by this pair, but stayed on to finish third.
Both men's and women's race winners received a new racing bike from sponsors and bicycle manufacturers Giant, as well as prize money of US$100 each.
The runners-up and third-place getters were awarded $70 and $50 respectively.
The Boys U18 section, which was highly competitive, was won by Yoeun Phiyuth ahead of Sok Cheat and Heng Lay. The winner came home in 40 minutes 27.58 seconds.
Heng Mengchou won the Girls U18 event in 59 minutes 8.22 seconds, sparing nearly three minutes to Vong Souho who was well ahead of Khum Srey Mom in third.
Pov Hok took the honours among the Men’s Over-40s, pushing Ansian Laplaneta and Pierre Yves Catry to second and third respectively. Pov Hok recorded a time of 40 minutes 41 seconds.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who set the event rolling with a pistol start in the morning, stayed on to greet the winners before hailing in his address the efforts of the Cambodian Triathlon Federation in introducing this exciting discipline to the sporting scene.
CTF President Kong Rithy Chup said he was encouraged by the turnout and the intensity of the competition.
“We now eagerly look forward in the coming months to a much bigger duathlon event in Siem Reap and a triathlon competition in Sihanoukville,” he added.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]