Bahrain itself is impressive enough: futuristic sky scrapers, a Formula 1 racecourse designed to host 70,000 people and—a sharp contrast to all the modernness—ancient burial mounds, forts and Manamana's traditional souq. The inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain attracts some of the sport's most merited pro athletes.
Both on the men’s and on the women’s front the line-up is awesome. IRONMAN world champion Daniela Ryf definitely is the woman with the target on her back. The 28-year old dominated each race in 2015, on her way to the title in Kona she won the IRONMAN European championship in Frankfurt and the IRONMAN 70.3 world championship in Zell am See-Kaprun. Ryf could highlight her season by winning a big prize purse in Bahrain. Her compatriot Caroline Steffen and Jodie Swallow (GBR) will be on the hunt as well as British Corinne Abraham and Canada’s Melanie McQuaid.
The men’s pro start list includes a lot of famous names. 2014 IRONMAN world championship runner-up Ben Hoffman (USA) faces athletes like South African James Cunnama, the strong Swiss Ruedi Wild, Brent McMahin (CAN), British 2013 IRONMAN 70.3 European champion Ritchie Nicholls and other fast guys like Bart Aernouts from Belgium who ranked fourth at the IRONMAN 70.3 world championship in August.
With a marathon runner mother and mountain guide father, this Swiss triathlon powerhouse comes by her athletic genes honestly. This year, Ryf won the IRONMAN European Championship, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, and the IRONMAN World Championship. Can she claim the title in Bahrain as well?
Ryf's Swiss compatriot has come straight from IRONMAN Western Sydney where she finished second behind Annabel Luxford. Nicknamed "Xena" after the warrior princess, Steffen boasts a long list of achievements: she won the IRONMAN European Championship twice, finished third at this year's race and won several IRONMAN 70.3 in 2015.
This British athlete knows how to win races. She has won two IRONMAN events, is a former IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, and set the course record at 2015 at IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa. She's a fighter who will surely aim for the podium in Bahrain.
This South African triathlete is convinced that this sport never stops teaching you. And it has taught him a lot apparently: Cunnama has a comprehensive collection of IRONMAN 70.3 podiums. He has said before that you can't win every race; surely he will try to win this one.
This Belgian athlete is very reliable when it comes to his race performance: He was fourth at the 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, third at IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa, first at the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship in Wiesbaden, just to name a few. He was named the "dark horse" for Kona by some experts, and is a likely candidate for the Bahrain podium.