World no. 30-ranked South African triathlete Gillian Sanders is jubilant with her 10th-place finish in the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan on Saturday. Photo: Janos M Schmidt / ITU

South Africa’s Gillian Sanders has finished tenth at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan. The race, which took place on Saturday, was won by Sweden’s Lisa Norden while Germany’s Anne Haug came second and Maaike Caelers of the Netherlands finished third.

Sanders finished in a time of 02:00:28, 1 minute and 21 seconds behind race winner Norden. This was a fantastic result for the Johannesburg born athlete who is ranked 30th in the world. “V. happy with my top 10 at #ITUYokohama-bit of a breakthrough for me in World Triathlon Series racing!” Sanders tweeted after the race.

Sanders’ next race will be the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand on 20 October.

Mirroring the London 2012 Olympic Games, the women’s race witnessed a spectacular sprint finish and this time Norden was not denied gold, beating Germany’s Anne Haug by just 1 second.

After a few days of strong winds and choppy waters, the elite women were greeted by glorious conditions with sunshine and very little wind. U.S. Olympian Sarah Groff was in front early but surprisingly Rachel Klamer led the women out of the water and into T1. She was followed closely by Groff and Emma Moffatt.

Three distinct packs formed early in the 40km bike course, including 19 women in the lead pack. They were pursued by a chase pack of nine, which included a number of stellar runners including Haug, Barbara Riveros Diaz, Ashleigh Gentle, Gwen Jorgensen, and Mariko Adachi.

A further 90 seconds behind that group were Ai Ueda and Felicity Sheedy-Ryan who were facing a two-minute deficit.

The leaders began the bike with a 50-second lead, but the group’s reluctance to work on staying away from the chase, coupled with Haug’s relentless tenacity on the bike, resulted in a big group of 28 women riding together at the beginning of the fourth lap.

The battle for the podium was ahead of them and early on the flat 10km run course, a group of seven women emerged at the front. Among them were Norden, Haug, Moffatt, Caelers, Gentle, Riveros and Densham.

Gentle and Moffatt both pushed the pace and traded the lead as they passed the midway point of the run while Norden waited for her moment to strike.

Norden and Haug entered the long 240m-finish chute together and began a furious sprint to the line. Haug broke away first but Norden quickly caught up, seizing the lead and never relinquishing it as she hit the finish tape first in a time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 7 seconds. It was her second title in Yokohama after taking the title in 2009.

“It’s the first major event after a couple of races that I did and I am getting into very good shape,” said Norden. “Coming to Japan with such a nice atmosphere and getting very well welcomed is so important for me. Maybe it is the sushi that works of my favour.”

 

2012 ITU World Triathlon in Yokohama, 29 September 2012 (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run):
1. Lisa Norden SWE 01:59:07
2. Anne Haug GER 01:59:08
3. Maaike Caelers NED 01:59:12
4. Emma Moffatt AUS 01:59:16
5. Erin Densham AUS 01:59:22
6. Ashleigh Gentle AUS 01:59:25
7. Sarah Groff USA 01:59:36
8. Gwen Jorgensen USA 01:59:55
9. Barbara Riveros Diaz CHI 02:00:22
10. Gillian Sanders RSA 02:00:28