63-year-old Hong Kong triathlete Grace Fong ‘honoured’ to compete in Hawaii world championships

The veteran athlete qualified for the annual event after winning the Xiamen Ironman 60-64 age group competition in 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:05am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:07pm

A 63-year-old triathlon veteran will fly the flag for Hong Kong when she takes part in this weekend’s Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Grace Fong Choi-ying is one of eight Hong Kong athletes taking part in Saturday’s race, which has been held in Hawaii since 1978. Also competing is 44-year-old Kate Rutherford, a former Hong Kong representative runner.

Fong qualified for the world event after winning the 60-64 age group event at the 2016 Ironman Xiamen 70.3.

“I am honoured to be able to race with the best in the world,” Fong said. “I am really looking forward to finishing the race. I am happy that I was able to qualify by winning my age group in the 70.3 Ironman Xiamen in 2016.”

The world championships consist of a 3.86km swim, 185.02km bike race and 42.2km marathon run – much more demanding than the distances Fong has covered in her preparation for the Hawaii event.

However, Fong, who trains between 12 to 22 hours a week, has been in good form in the run-up to Hawaii.

She won her age group at the Philippines Ironman 70.3, finishing the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run in Cebu in seven hours, nine minutes and 42 seconds. She was 108th out of all the women who competed.

At the Xiamen event last year, she beat out Japan’s Mieko Makimoto and Anita Pryor, of the United States, to win her age group category and claim one of the qualifying places for the world championships.

She completed the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run in 06:38:09, more than two minutes ahead of Makimoto and was 89th in the open women’s category.

More than 2,000 of the world’s top athletes in all categories will take part in the Hawaii competition. Beijing Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno, of Germany, heads the men’s event while Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf is favourite in the women’s category.

Red Bull will be providing free live action of the race on its website, www.redbull.tv.