- More than 1,400 triathletes participated in the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship & 2023 IRONMAN MALAYSIA
- Participants from 60 countries make this spectacle a grand success in Langkawi island
LANGKAWI, OCTOBER 7: Newly married couple Josh Amberger and Ashleigh Gentle earned themselves a fairytale finish after they were crowned the 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship (APAC) male and female winners champions in a competitive field.
It was a day that will live long in memory for Langkawi Island and Malaysia, with the country hosting its maiden IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship supported by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) since IRONMAN first stamped its footprints here some 23-years ago.
This year’s edition was even more significant with the return of the professional triathletes, some four years since 2012 Olympic silver medallist Javier Gomez shattered the IRONMAN Malaysia course record.
On Saturday, it was Amberger who hogged the limelight in the men’s category after turning in a majestic performance to finish the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run course with a time of 3:50:47 under testing conditions on Saturday.
The Australian led the swim at the Danna Langkawi and kept his lead his advantage intact for large parts of the 90km bike course through the hilly and winding course terrain which took the participants through the Langkawi Falls and the coastline of Pantai Kok.
The 34-year-old later saw his lead dissipate as fellow compatriots Mike Phillips and Kurt Mcdonald swapped places at the top, before regaining his advantage in the final stretch of the run as he made his way his through Cenang beach to the Pelangi Beach Resort finish line to seal victory.
“I built into the run but didn’t take the lead until the final 11 or 12 kilometres. When I got it, I just wanted to push the advantage to seal the deal. It’s an amazing feeling to win the IRONMAN 70.3 APAC Championship in Langkawi. I’m super happy to win it,” said the 11-times IRONMAN 70.3 Champion, who also captured his second IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship.
In this multisport event where women are on equal footing as the men, Amberger’s wife Gentle completed a magnificent day for their household as she finished champion with a time of 4:10:17, almost six minutes ahead of her closest competitor.
Gentle saved her best for the final leg of the course when she completed the run course in less than 80 minutes.
The two-time Olympian, who was greeted with a hug and kiss from her husband, hailed him as a bedrock to her success.
“The highlight for me was seeing Josh win. He has helped me so much in my career and to see him have this success makes me happy. We got married last year, but we have been out on the triathlon circuit for over a decade and shared some great experiences together. To be able to come here and take two titles to one household feels pretty good,” she said.
Besides a total prize purse of $75,000 (RM RM354,562) and bragging rights, the top competitors were also vying for qualification to the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Teh Kuok Yen and Esther Joy Chen Hong Li did Malaysia proud by finishing the race as the fastest overall IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi age-groupers.
Kuok Yen clocked 4:32:13 to become the fastest Malaysian Male, while national triathlete Esther Joy Chen finished with 5:07:39 to become the quickest local female competitor.
Jeff Edwards, the Managing Director of IRONMAN Asia said this year’s edition set a successful milestone for this series in the region.
“The good number of participants for the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship and IRONMAN Malaysia continues to showcase the value and potential that Langkawi Island brings to this event. We saw how every athlete, both amateur and professional give their best, and what made it more compelling was the fact there were so many locals cheering them at the finish line. We foresee that the IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi & IRONMAN MALAYSIA will continue to be a signature event in the Asian region for many years to come,” he said.
CG Lim, the Regional Director for IRONMAN Asia said the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship could open more opportunities for the island community moving forward.
“The local communities and authorities remain one of the key pillars to our success, and again their dedication to ensure everything ran smoothly was of the highest order. We could see a bigger participation next year due to this, and that will create more economic opportunities for the local community which would be deserving of their efforts,” he said.
While IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi saw athletes compete over a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run those taking on IRONMAN Malaysia took part in a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run, with all crossing the famous IRONMAN finish line.
Besides the 40 qualifying slots to the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, there were also 70 qualifying slots available for the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN World Championships.
This includes 20 qualifying slots for the male triathletes at the World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii while the female athletes will receive 50 qualifying slots for their world meet at Nice, France.
As mentioned by CG, the local community contributed immensely to the success of this event through almost 2,000 volunteers.
The Langkawians played their part in every way possible, from their much needed help at the aid stations along the bike course to turning on their vehicle headlights as the field made their way along the Langkawi International Airport.
Langkawi island continues to attract millions of tourists every year, and it was the same for this IRONMAN events as participants brought their friends and families to enjoy the beautiful beaches, the sumptuous delicacies and vibrant nightlife.
|2023 IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship Langkawi – Pro Male|
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|2023 IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship Langkawi – Pro Female|
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