Patience and persistence paid off for Amelia Watkinson as she timed her effort perfectly to land the win at IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne on Sunday.
The Kiwi is up to #17 in the world rankings after a strong and consistent season and she had to stay focussed to claim this latest success, only getting past Natalie Van Coevorden in the final kilometre to eventually win by less than 40 seconds, with Lotte Wilms a further minute behind in third.
Watkinson had to fight hard from the start, coming out of the water almost three minutes off the lead. From there she chipped away throughout the 90km bike leg, eventually returning to transition just 40 seconds behind in fifth. Once onto the run the Kiwi charged her way through the field before making the late catch on the leader.
“I really had to dig deep for that one but to be honest it’s more satisfying when that’s the case, I’m really happy with the performance and thank you to the other girls for making it a good race,” said Watkinson.
“There was a little bit of anticipation this morning with the weather conditions, the swim was shortened a little bit, I don’t know what the time was, it was still pretty cold and choppy out there which is definitely a weak point of mine so I had to quickly change my mindset and get through that.
“The deficit was certainly more than I would have hoped for, in some ways I expected that and I knew it was going to be a solid opportunity to push the bike and run.”
’15-18km is when it really hits you’
Onto the run and Watkinson explained: “I think there were four girls ahead of me when we hit the run, I got a few splits, I think it was close to a minute and a half [at one point].
“I knew that two of those girls were short-course athletes and definitely recall from being new to the longer distance that around 15 to 18km is when it really hits you. I had some patience and kept on digging and I don’t think I got Nat until about a k to go and I didn’t look over my shoulder until the finish line,” she said.
Watkinson added that the crowd support helped get her across the line in the final stages as she closed in on Van Coevorden for the win.
She said: “I was really pushing, I was talking to my coach on the phone prior to this race and we know that in those last few ks a lot of it is mental and it’s just a matter of how bad you want it and I think someone said that to me out on course, I had a lot of support which was great.”