Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer and South Africa’s Henri Schoeman both delivered commanding victories at Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift Switzerland, but it was a stunning performance by 15-year-old Fanni Szalai that stole the spotlight.
The 28-year-old Bragmayer won each of the three stages to produce a statement win ahead of the Arena Games final in London on 8 April, beating Britain’s Olivia Mathias and fellow Hungarian Szalai into second and third place, respectively.
“I’m so happy with this win,” said Bragmayer. “I didn’t do anything special ahead of this race, but I felt really good going into it. I wanted to prove it here. I really don’t like losing and if you lose your focus then you’re out of the game.”
Bragmayer wasn’t the only Hungarian securing the headlines, however, with her coaching companion, the 15-year-old Szalai, making waves by first qualifying for the final in the morning’s heats, and then taking bronze in the final itself after a battle with Welsh racer Mathias, who’d finish second.
The men’s event was similarly dramatic, with South Africa’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist Schoeman continuing his emotional return to the pinnacle of racing after three years of injury and illness with a gold medal. The 31-year-old, who finished second at the Arena Games Triathlon Montreal leg in February, took control on the second of the day’s three stages, beating a stacked field of Super League stars in the process and laying down a major marker ahead of the Arena Games finale in London.
France’s Maxime Hueber-Moosbrugger took second, with Swiss racer Simon Westermann pleasing the home crowd with bronze position.
“It feels amazing,” an elated Schoeman revealed at the finish. “I want to thank the crowd out here who have pushed us to our absolute limits – the arena here is so compact and electrifying. It’s my first win since all of the injuries and setbacks I’ve faced, and I’m so thrilled with my performance. I’m loving my life right now.”
The race saw the major multisport nation of Switzerland making its long-awaited Super League debut, with a sell-out crowd filling the CAMPUS SURSEE Sportarena on the banks of Lake Sempach.
The format saw a mass start 200m pool swim, before a 4km Zwift bike leg and a 1km run on an elliptical running machine. Stage 2 would reverse that order, beginning with a 1km mass start run before a 4km bike and a 200m swim. The concluding Stage 3 would open with a Pursuit Start 200m swim, before the 4km bike leg and final 1km run to crown the overall winner.
The final of Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift takes place at the Aquatic Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on April 8 with the World Championship title decided by an athlete’s best result from Montreal or Switzerland plus the final.