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New champions to be crowned at championships

New champions will be crowned in both the men's and women's divisions in the Axa Bermuda National Olympic Distance Championships at Clearwater Beach tomorrow.

That is because both of last year's winners Philip Mace and Karen Smith will not be returning to defend their titles.

Mace is off island while Smith has opted not to compete as she is preparing for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii next month.

“I have the Ironman World Championships coming up in two weeks in Kona, Hawaii, so I have decided to focus on my preparations for that race,” Smith said.

Matt Thompson is a firm favourite to claim the vacant men's title with Maddie Durkin and Ashley Couper expected to be among the main contenders for women's honours.

Couper is venturing into the unknown having only recently resumed any form of training since returning from the Otillo Swimrun World Championship in Sandhamn, Sweden, this month.

There, she and Mace secured a top-ten finish in their respective division and placed 40th overall.

“I'm actually unsure as to how I am going to do because I came off the big Swimrun World Championship about four weeks ago and took two weeks off as per the instructions from my coach and physiotherapist,” said Couper, who is a six-times Bermuda Half Marathon Derby winner.

“So I did literally nothing for two weeks and then I've just started running a little bit and just been really busy with the start of the school year. I have not really done much cycling or swimming, so I'm just hoping that some general fitness is still lingering on.

“I feel that my swimming at the Swimrun World Championship is the best it will ever be. But that was a month ago, so I really don't know what to expect.

“I'm just going to go in and kind of try and be competitive and see what it's like on the day and it will probably be a little kick start to get me going to get some training in again.”

The championships comprise of a 1.5 kilometre swim, 40km bike and 10km run and will see athletes from various age groups compete individually or among men's, women's or mixed teams.

“The conditions should be conducive to a good race,” Steven Petty, the Bermuda Triathlon president, said.

“It's going to be low humidity and I think it's a fairly flat course, so it should be conducive to good times.”

The event at Southside, St David's, also features a sprint race involving athletes 16 and older who will compete both individually or among the various team categories.

The sprint racecourse consists of a 750 metre swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

A junior race will also be held featuring junior athletes that will compete individually among three age groups over various distances.

Juniors between the ages of 7 and 10 will compete on a course made up of a 100 metre swim, 5km bike and 1km run.

Eleven and 12-year-olds will do a 200 metre swim, 10km bike and 2km run and 13 to 15-year-olds a 375 metre swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run.

The championships will begin at 8am.

Notable absentee: Karen Smith will not be defending her Olympic distance title as she continues her preparations for the Ironman World Championships (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 28, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 28, 2019 at 1:17 am)

New champions to be crowned at championships

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