Australian Tim Berkel will renew his battle with German Nils Frommhold at a wide-open IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship later this month. The pair finished sixth and seventh respectively at the IRONMAN World Championship last year after the Australian was pipped by his rival late in the run.
They are set to resume that duel in Melbourne after the men's professional field was announced.
"It's been a long time since I have won an IRONMAN in Australia and I'm very hungry for another title," Berkel said. "I took a lot of confidence from Kona last year. I feel I can mix it with the best athletes in the sport on the world stage when things are going well."
At just 28 Frommhold is one of the young guns of the sport and, after his strong showing at Kona, he's looking forward to getting his 2015 campaign off to a winning start.
"Kona was brilliant for me. It showed me that I am on the right track and gave me a lot of self-confidence. Hopefully I can benefit from that performance; it also showed me that it's never too late for a comeback, even after 30km of the marathon," he said.
The pair will be joined by a slew of men, all with the pedigree to become the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Champion.
Local boy Luke Bell has put the knee injury that curtailed the early part of his 2014 season behind him and is looking for a strong performance in front of a hometown crowd.
"I have been able to nail all my sessions and stay healthy and uninjured, which is half of the battle," he said. "Training wise I have been able to complete more than I have for a long time."
Three-time short course world champion, Australian Peter Robertson, who finished third in just his second attempt at the distance at last year's IRONMAN Cairns, is looking forward to his third IRONMAN race.
"Coming from short course, there really wasn't any such thing as pacing, just go all out." Robertson said. "With the IRONMAN you feel so good for so long and then all of a sudden it hits you and you feel terrible. Unfortunately I have felt terrible for to a long time, in my full-distance races. I feel much better prepared now for the pacing side of racing, but also physically stronger and in better condition for my next IRONMAN event."
Joining Robertson will be multiple IRONMAN 70.3 Champion and 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Brad Kahlefeldt, who will be making his IRONMAN debut in a location that holds very special memories for him.
"I've got fond memories of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Running down the finish shoot with 300,000 screaming fans was a special feeling," Kahlefeldt said. "It certainly was a career highlight for me, so to come back and race and finish at the same location as I did in '06, at a distance I thought I'd never do, is exciting."
Last year's IRONMAN New Zealand Champion, Estonia's Marko Albert, will also be in the mix as will Canadian Jeff Symonds, who was second at IRONMAN Canada last year.
Courtesy: Ironman Asia-Pacific