Experienced Tahitians dominate Pacific Islands Championships triathlon

By Thomas Airey ,

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Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo win.

Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo win.

Team Tahiti had a clean sweep at the Pacific Islands Championships triathlon held in Samoa at the Sogi Reserve.

Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo finished first in the women’s competition, with Benjamin Zorgnotti, Raphael Thomas Armour-Lazzari, and Vianney Videau coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the men’s.

Zorgnotti said you can’t compare his team’s performance with that of the other countries.

“I’ve done triathlon for 18 years, and I’m only 24.

“I can’t really go faster than this, but the others have big potential.”

Zorgnotti identified Samoan Raea Khan as one to watch heading towards the Pacific Games next year.

He said he was a really good swimmer and quite a good biker.

Khan finished 5th overall, and first of the three Samoans competing.

“I felt like I went well,” he said.

“The swim was better than I thought, not too choppy.”

Khan is based in Australia, but hopes to return to Samoa to train with the local athletes before the Pacific Games next year.

“Getting used to the heat, the heat’s a killer,” he said.

Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo of Tahiti after the swim.
Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo of Tahiti after the swim.
Men’s competitors at start line.
Men’s competitors at start line.
Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo on the bike.
Leilanie Guerry Wong Foo on the bike.
Samoan Raea Khan exits the transition zone ahead of Tahitian athletes.
Samoan Raea Khan exits the transition zone ahead of Tahitian athletes.
Samoan brothers Sam and Steve Nimarota.
Samoan brothers Sam and Steve Nimarota.
Men’s winner Benjamin Zorgnotti of Tahiti.
Men’s winner Benjamin Zorgnotti of Tahiti.

Khan praised the performance of his fellow Samoan representatives, brothers Steve and Sam Nimarota.

“Based on what we have here equipment-wise, they did amazing,” he said.

“The Tahiti guys are very kitted up, and also very professional.”

Zorgnotti felt the race could have been run better, but thought today would have been good training for the Samoa Triathlon Federation.

“They need to close the road well before, and have more cones for the run so we know exactly where we are going,” he said.

“The water stations were very good.”

Khan agreed that the Federation will be able to run a successful Pacific Games event next year having had this practice.

“There’s a few things to work on, in transition it was really hot to put your feet down,” he said.

Next year there will be carpet laid from the water to the cycling area to assuage this problem.

Zorgnotti is a veteran of the last two Pacific Games triathlons in Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.

“There’s more pressure, if you fail you have to wait four years,” he said.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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