Τί δήλωσε ο Faris Al Sultan στην συνέντευξη τύπου

(Press Release in Greek and English).Ο 33 χρονος “Γερμανός» Faris Al-Sultan κέρδισε το Ironman της Γερμανίας, που είναι ταυτόχρονα και Ευρωπαικό πρωτάθλημα Ironman. O ίδιος δεν το περίμενε καθώς όπως έλεγε πριν τον αγώνα η φυσική του κατάσταση την παρούσα στιγμή είναι «μέτρια».

Ταυτόχρονα, επισήμανε και ο ίδιος στην συνέντευξη τύπου μετά τον αγώνα ότι θεωρεί ότι όπως εξελίχθηκε η κούρσα ήταν πολύ τυχερός. Περίμενε ότι ο Γάλλος Sudrie θα κάνει την “επίθεση” στην ποδηλασία – ήταν έξι αθλητές που έδιναν ρυθμό στην κούρσα στην ποδηλασία- όμως κάτι τέτοιο δεν έγινε και έτσι αποφάσισε αυτός να δώσει ρυθμό στο ποδήλατο και να φύγει. Ο Sudrie περιέργως δεν ακολούθησε και έτσι πήρε την διαφορά που ήθελε. Είχε στο μυαλό του ότι έπρεπε να πάρει διαφορά από τους δυνατούς δρομείς όπως είναι ο Νεοζηλανδός Cameron Brown και ο Γερμανός Michael Gohner.  Στο τρέξιμο δήλωσε ότι ζορίστηκε πάρα πολύ στην τρίτη στροφή όπου έπρεπε να ενεργοποιήσει όλα τα ψυχικά του αποθέματα.Προσέθεσε επίσης ότι το αποτέλεσμα ήταν πολύ καλύτερο από την απόδοσή του την συγκεκριμένη μέρα. Ομως όπως είπε ο ίδιος πρέπει να δεχεσαι τις καταστάσεις όπως είναι και ότι σε αντίστοιχες περιπτώσεις το αποτέλεσμα που πήρε από έναν αγώνα ήταν χειρότερο από την απόδοσή του.

Τώρα έχει φτάσει στην καλύτερη θεωρητικά ηλικία για να αποδώσει στους αγώνες Ironman. Ας θυμηθούμε ότι ο  Mark Allen κέρδισε το πρώτο του Παγκόσμιο πρωτάθλημα Ironman στα 31, ο Chris McCormack στα 34 και ο Graig Alexander στα 35. Από εδώ και πέρα ο ίδιος ετοιμάζεται για την Χαβάη όπου για αυτό τον λόγο θα κάνει δύο σημαντικά στάδια προετοιμασίας, ένα σε υψόμετρο και ένα στην Tucson. Ο ίδιος γνωρίζει ότι μπορεί, όταν είναι στα καλά του, να μείνει κοντά σε οποιονδήποτε στο ποδήλατο – όχι φυσικά με τον Lieto όταν αυτός είναι στα καλύτερά του – αλλά σίγουρα πρέπει να βελτιώσει το 2:57 στον μαραθώνιο, γιατί με τέτοιο χρόνο – που με δεδομένο των δύσκολων συνθηκών- θα είναι χειρότερος αναλογικά στην Χαβάη, δεν μπορείς να ευελπιστείς σε κάτι καλύτερο.


Organiser’s press release in English.

Heading into Sunday’s Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship, Faris Al-Sultan couldn’t have been more blunt about his own expectations for the race. Describing his fitness as “mediocre,” he certainly wasn’t portraying himself as a contender.When called on his pre-race attitude, the 2005 Ford Ironman World Champion was quick to say it hadn’t all been a show.  “Actually, I think, in this race, I was a little bit lucky,” he said in an interview just minutes after Sunday night’s press conference. “But I’m not going to argue because you take it as it comes, and there have been other races where my performance was better than my result. I guess this time my result was better than my performance.” When it comes to Ironman racing, Al-Sultan, 33, is, in theory, just coming into his peak years, even though it feels like we’ve seen his “swim-suit only” approach to racing for so long. (Al-Sultan’s win in Kona at 27 is almost unusually young. Mark Allen won the first of his six Ironman titles at 31, Chris McCormack was 34 when he won his first title and Craig Alexander was 35 when he won in 2008.)

The reason it seems like Al-Sultan has been around forever is because he has. He did his first Ironman in Lanzarote when he was 19. In 2001 he came close to becoming the youngest Ironman champion in history when he came second at Ironman Brazil and in 2004 he went under eight hours (after leading for much of the day he was finally caught) at a full-distance race in Germany.

Then, of course, there was his win in Kona in 2005. Earlier that year he had dominated at Ironman Arizona, taking his first Ironman title. Laid back to the extreme, Al-Sultan shocked Ironman race officials in Kona when they asked him what they could get him to eat after the race. Al-Sultan walked up to the Taco Bell restaurant and got himself a snack before the press conference.

Al-Sultan has added wins in Malaysia and Regensburg to that impressive resume since his win in Kona, but hasn’t finished in the top three in Kona since 2006 and has never had a great day in Frankfurt – he was sixth in 2006 and 2009. That made Sunday’s win a bit of a comeback, of sorts. When you look at Al-Sultan’s extensive experience at Ironman racing, though, you realize that if anyone in the field was capable of seizing an opportunity, it would be him.

“I didn’t expect the race to develop like that,” he said. “I was in that first group of six guys, but I thought it was going to be Sudrie’s time and he would make a charge and attack hard. Anyone who has seen him, especially when he won the (ITU) world championships, knows that this guy is incredible on the bike. But we went out pretty slow and I wasn’t going to wait for guys like Michael Gohner and Cameron Brown (strong runners), so I thought I would go. Then Sudrie fell back, so I thought I would go on and try.”

“I never felt extra-ordinarily good, but I never had a weak part … I felt cold and tired, but it went quite smoothly,” he continued.

Through the marathon, Al-Sultan struggled, but managed to control the race from the front.

“The first two loops were OK, then in the third loop I took some damage. In the last loop I tried extremely hard to defend the gap, but my legs were really stiff and sore. I really had to dig deep.”

As if in keeping with his pre-race approach, Al-Sultan isn’t assuming the win in Frankfurt on Sunday will make things any easier in Kona.

“I know that, if my cycling is good, I can cycle with the best. Maybe not with Lieto, if he’s 100 percent, but I guess with everybody else. I still have to work on my run, and I know that. My 2:57, even if you deduct a little bit for the tough conditions, it’s not competitive for Kona. I have to work on that, but that was on the schedule anyways.

“With the run performance, you simply know you have to be better. I’ll hope for a tough race in tough conditions and we’ll see how it goes in Kona. I know that I can be top five again. That was the goal before Frankfurt, and will be the goal after it.”

Shortly, Al-Sultan will begin his training for Kona, which will be dramatically different to the way he prepared for Sunday’s race in Frankfurt.

“Going into Kona I’ll have two solid training blocks,” he said. “One at altitude and one in Tucson. I didn’t have that before this race. This is now my fifth weekend in a row of racing.“

Al-Sultan can now add one of the world’s most prestigious Ironman titles to a long and highlight-filled resume.

“Kona is still different, but I’m very, very happy that I won. This is the biggest race in Germany, so I’m glad I ticked that one off.”

When his competitors see him in Kona, they’ll be hoping he is feeling really good about his training and fitness – that “mediocre” level is just too tough to beat.