Less than a week left until the women’s competition IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, a six-time winner Mark Allen made his predictions for this year’s eagerly anticipated women’s professional competition in Hawaii.
Dividing his verdict between two groups – favorites and potential disruptors, Allen singled out six women who he believes will play key roles in Saturday’s showdown on the Big Island.
Drawing on his experiences racing on the island and his extensive knowledge of triathlon, the American legend gave great insight into who cares about the race, what conditions favor which competitors and why previous winners cannot be counted.
Mark Allen’s Favorite Kona
When discussing the three main title favorites, Allen singles out three stars who have already won in Hawaii:
“The three favorites I see are three returning champions who have won this race before. The first is Anna Haug, who is an amazing runner. She will be one of the favorites, especially if it is a long, hard and hot day with a light wind, which seems to favor really good runners.
“Another favorite is Chelsea Sodaro. She won last year and actually exceeded the numbers that her coach set for her, and she exceeded those numbers from the very beginning. That’s the mark of a true competitor and a true champion, and she’ll be back this year.
“It’s finally here Daniel Ryf, who won the IRONMAN Championship five times, including four in Kona. He’s getting to a point in his career where he doesn’t have much of a future, so a win would be really good. Earlier this year at the Challenge, Roth clocked an 8:08 to take the win, so if she’s even in that shape when she shows up in Kona next weekend, everyone better watch out!”
Kona Disruptors by Mark Allen
Looking further down the list, Allen also selected three athletes who will look to disrupt the status quo:
“The first disruptor I will choose this year is Laura Filip, who was fourth last year and received a cycling penalty. She is currently one of the best runners in this sport and if she has the right conditions that day, she may not only stand on the podium, but also become the race champion.
“Next, Kat Matthews she’s been getting stronger and stronger since she came back from that terrible accident last year, and I think if her progress continues in the same direction, she could upset the apple cart and win this race. She may not necessarily be the fastest in any of these disciplines, but she is so strong that for many years IRONMAN has not been a speed event, but a strength event.
Finally, Allen highlighted the talent of perhaps the most talked-about athlete in the field – the American genius Taylor Knibb. He’s excited to see what the two-time 70.3 world champion can accomplish in her full-distance debut.
“The biggest disruptor in my opinion is Taylor Knibb, the IRONMAN 70.3 world champion from Finland, who has already qualified for the Olympics and is coming to Kona for the first time. She is super fast at swimming and probably the fastest cyclist.
“Even though she has never covered this distance, she is very calculated, very analytical and knows how to take care of her body during competition. She doesn’t know distance, she’s never done it before, but she’s absolutely fearless and can be the one to upset the favorites.”
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