Bishworjit Singh Saikhom of the Indian Army created history as he finished first in India’s first-ever Ironman 70.3 triathlon held in Goa on Sunday. The 29-year-old based in Pune working as Havildar with the Bombay Sappers completed the gruelling distance of 1.9km swim, 90km cycling and 21 kms run with an impressive time of 4 hours 42 minutes 44 seconds much ahead of India’s Nihal Baig, an alumni of IIT Bombay, who clocked 4 hours 47 minutes 47 seconds to finish second.
The inaugural edition of the event was a memorable outing for the Indians as the third triathlete to cross the finish-line was Mahesh Lourembam, a native of Manipur, who pushed seasoned triathlete Pablo Erat of Switzerland who was billed as the top contender of the event to the fourth place. Lourembam finished the race with a time of 4 hours 52 minutes while Erat reached the finish line at 4 hours 56 minutes on the clock.
“It was my aim to defeat Pablo for many years. I completed in the 2015 triathlon in Goa where Pablo was the winner. He has been consistently winning over the past few years and it was really my aim to beat him here in this race. I am very happy I was the first person to reach the finish line,” said an elated Saikhom who has been a professional triathlete and has finished on the podium in the Olympic-distance triathlon Open Nationals. “This is my first-ever Ironman 70.3 Goa and my performance here surely gives me the confidence to do well in future triathlon events. Getting sponsored by Recreational Triathlon Club in Pune has helped me a lot for this race and they also helped me buy a quality cycle to race,” he added.
Saikhom, with his performance, has received an invitation to participate in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand next year.
While Saikhom, Mahesh and Pablo emerged out of the 1.9kms swim together, it was Likith SP – international medallist in swimming who was the first to get out of the water at 25 minutes from the flag-off time. He was over 5 minutes ahead of the rest of the pack.
Meanwhile, it was no surprise that Natascha Badman, 6-time World Champion, lived up to the billing as she was the first woman to make it to the finish line and was placed overall 7th in the race.