Japan’s Yuko Takahashi holds onto Asian Games crown with gold in Hangzhou

by Courtney Akrigg/World Triathlon Media

The perfect day for Yuko Takahashi as the Japanese triathlete dominates in Hangzhou, defends her crown and wins gold in the 2023 Asian Games Women’s Triathlon Competition in China. China’s Xinyu Lin delivers an impressive race to earn silver and Yifan Yang produces a fine performance to claim bronze.

Chun’an Jieshou Sports Centre set the scene for the women’s Triathlon competition in the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday morning. The conditions were hot and humid with temperatures rising across race morning.

Defending champion Yuko Takahashi (JPN) led the field of 21 women onto the pontoon for the start of the women’s Triathlon competition in Hangzhou. Takahashi led the entire 1.5km lake swim with China’s Xinyu Lin and Yifan Yang, Hong Kong’s Bailee Brown, Japan’s Yuka Sato and Korea’s Ji Yeon Kim in the chase. Takahashi had 40 seconds over the field at the end of the swim and was the first athlete through transition and onto the 40km bike course.

Brown, Lin and Yang were next through transition and onto the bike course. The trio appeared to be working well together as they went through each lap on the chase for the race leader.

Sato, who was in the first chase pack in the swim was now riding with the second chase group featuring Kim and Hye Rim Jeong.

By the final stage of the bike segment, Takahashi had extended her lead by over a minute and after a slick transition from bike to run, Takahashi headed out to attack the hot, humid and hilly 10km course. China’s Yifan Yang and Xinyu Lin were next through transition and onto the run. Brown had a slower transition after her bike fell upon racking which set her back a few seconds out onto the run course.

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Halfway through the run, Takahashi was looking fantastic in the lead. Lin had managed to pull away from Yang and was running in second with Yang in third.

The run in Hangzhou was hilly and temperatures were on the rise so the women were doing everything they could to stay cool on course.

Yuko Takahashi was not letting anything or anyone get in her way and as she approached the blue carpet of the finish line, she took the tape and struck gold in Hangzhou. The race favorite dominated the entire Olympic-distance race today and was able to defend her Asian Games champion title. Today’s race was a crucial race for Olympic points in the quest for qualification for Paris 2024.

“I’m always working hard towards my goal, in this whole process I could feel the chase pack but I stuck to the end.

“I’m a bit more relaxed now that I have won gold in the lead-up to Paris. It’s not easy to win the Asian Games. I tried everything and I believe this form can be sustained until the Olympic Games in Paris next year,” said gold medallist Takahashi.

A remarkable and patriotic race for China’s Xinyu Lin to earn the silver medal after a perfect race from start to finish.

“This competition was very intense, we also formed a small pack to chase the gold medallist Yuko Takashi. We did our best to narrow the gap with her.

“The water was so clear, every time I could see the epis of my hand. The cycling course is wide enough with good vision. There were a lot of hills but this was a good challenge for all competitors so they could perform to their potential.

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“We will be very prepared for the Olympic Games in Paris and strive for qualification for the Olympics Games in Paris,” said silver medallist Xinyu Lin.

With an emotional finish, fellow compatriot Yifan Yang of China secured the bronze medal in front of a home crowd in Hangzhou.

“This competition, I didn’t have a good swim but I had a great run. The lake was beautiful. The course is so challenging,” said bronze medallist Yifan Yang.

Today’s competition was important for all individuals on the hunt for Olympic points ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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