For the third stop of the 2019 World Triathlon Series the elite triathletes head to Japan once again to return to the familiar event of the ITU World Triathlon Yokohama. In the race 10th anniversary, the event marks the start of the second period of the Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020, and 50 men and 42 women will toe the line with a start list stacked with legends of the sport and all the upcoming rising stars. Here is what Katie Zaferes, Vincent Luis, Yuko Takahashi and Takumi Hojo had to say, accompanied in the press conference by paratriathletes Geert Schipper, Susana Rodriguez, Wakako Tsuchida and Hideki Uda.
On the preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games. “For me this season it is really important to perform really well in the test event next July, but this year is another step in the process and see how I can perform in these conditions, even if it is not exactly the same here. But Yokohama will help me prepare to be a better athlete all around. I am planning on going out to check out the Tokyo course right after the race here in Yokohama so that I can prepare myself mentally for the races this August and hopefully for the Olympic Games as well”.
On hopes for the Mixed Relay: France is definitely a rival, as Great Britain and Australia, but you can’t count off any country in races like the Mixed Relays. Races are always evolving and are really fast, and we are all trying to get better and better, so we all have great options. We have a great team, with really strong people on it and we are getting more and more experience, so the goal is to try to have a medal in the first ever Mixed Relay event in the Olympics”.
On where she likes to race in the Mixed Relay events: “I’ve never done the first leg, but I really like the third one. I think I’m quite good at chasing, so probably that’s a good spot for me. And if the team is already ahead by then, I am also good on riding solo and keeping the distance”.
On weather conditions for the race: “I am really good usually in cold environments, but I am learning to compete better under extreme heat as we will have in Tokyo. And I will get better competing with these conditions this year, for sure. Heat is not my favourite, but I am training hard to make it my favourite”.
On preparations for the test event and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: “Racing in Japan for me is a good test before the test event in Tokyo, even if is not the same course and we are not competing at the same time, but at least we can start getting familiar with how the body reacts to the different time zone, the different weather conditions and so on”.
On rivals when it comes to Mixed Relay races: “Mixed Relays are a chance of constantly learn, and there’s plenty of gadgets and new technologies to improve. Australia, USA, Great Britain all have great teams, but we are the current world champions and want to keep on this path. We have really strong boys and girls that can be part of the team for the relay, but the National Federations will do a good choice for the team and I hope I will be in the team then. And when it comes to the race, I really like to do the last leg”.
On the weather conditions he likes most: “I think I can deal well with both heat and rain and cold, cause in Rotterdam Grand Final it was cold and rainy and I won, and same in Gold Coast where it was quite hot. I’d say that with my type of body I am better with cold weather, but I am also improving on performing well in the heat”.
On preparations for Yokohama race: “I am always prepared to compete at my best level. And that applies also to this event, I want to compete at my possible best”.
On the Team Relay event and where she prefers to compete in these events: “For me I don’t mind being first or third in the team, but if I had to choose, probably I will pick being the third leg”.
On potentially making it to the Team Relay team: “I would love to be part of the team. Is something really special for us all”.
On her preparation for WPS Yokohama: “The is my third time racing in Yokohama. Last year I learn a lot, and I was happy on how I performed. This season I worked a lot on my weakest part, the swim, so hopefully I can have a good race here this Saturday. The best thing of Yokohama is being cheered by lots of spectators, so it is great to race here at home. The race is going to be very fast, and I am very much looking forward to it”.
On Is my fourth time in Yokohama. This race is very special, I like the roads, the parks, the people here, the food. I will always be lining up in Yokohama if I can. We have been training a lot this winter in Spain, and we raced already in Milan WPS, where we won. Paula, my guide, and I have worked together a lot and are in a great shape for this race.
On competing at Paralympics. “When I was 8 years old I dreamed with competing at the Olympics one day, and I had the chance of competing in Rio Paralympics three years ago. So if you work hard enough, dreams do come true. In Rio we finished in 5th place, so we are looking forward to compete in Tokyo 2020 and improve that position, and hopefully get in the podium. This is our dream”.
What I do for training is about 20 hours a week, I have done an Ironman race last year and I love this sport. We need a lot of training and are very busy. Hopefully I have a wife that supports me, as do my three kids. I really like this life. This is my third year in Yokohama, and I am looking forward the race. The course is flat, and hopefully I can do a good race and win here again.
On Paralympic Games: “I started seven years ago on paratriathlon, and a few years later I got a silver medal in Rio. The goal is to improve if possible in Tokyo 2020. Is not going to be easy as most likely Jetze Plat will also be there, but I’m training hard for that”.
I try to focus on swimming, my weakest sport. My plans is not to give up until the end of the race and try to finish in the podium.