Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 Ironman Hawaii Pro Press Conference

Many athletes and members of the press were anxious to witness the first real reconnoiter between Chris McCormack and Normann Stadler since the heated, much-publicized fighting words between the runner-up and Hawaii champion last year following the race. But what many hoped to see in an awkward three-way exchange between McCormack, Stadler and secondary-McCormack-rival Faris Al-Sultan was not delivered, as McCormack, better known as Macca, was noticeably absent, an omission commented on by both Stadler and Al-Sultan and even good ole Welchy himself. In this modest observer's eyes, Macca's absence touched off more than a bit of animosity toward the fiery Aussie, whose comments over the last year on his fellow competitors, including Al-Sultan, Stadler and Alexander, have created controversy and debate in the media.

"I was a little exhausted when I went into the race [last year], and I wasn't able to get rid of the other guys on the bike." -Al-Sultan

"Like every year, I'm nervous. But now that I've won twice, it will be easier." -Stadler

"I think [the Macca-Stadler rivalry] is good for the sport, that people are out there cheering for a favorite. I have my own favorite out of one of the three [of Al-Sultan, Stadler, Macca] on who's going to win, but I'm keeping that to myself." -Beke
"Of course you have to use [a speedsuit]. But my preference would be just to race in a Speedo." -Al-Sultan, after which the room erupted in laughter.

"It's faster to swim with one then without [a speedsuit], but it's not four minutes." -Stadler, in regards to his faster-than-usual, lead-pack swim at the 2006 Ironman Hawaii, for which he wore a speedsuit and finished four minutes ahead of the trailing men's pack.

"I think I may be the slowest swimmer of all [the competitive men], but I think it's bad for the sport to allow [speedsuits]. But you're forced to [wear one] because everyone else is doing it." -Beke

"Of course, if you can stay with Normann [on the bike], try it. But if you can't, what are you going to do? I have to make up for that in the other disciplines." -Al-Sultan

"I rode the [Kuota] for four weeks. I'm OK with the bike. But it's only a bike-I'm the engine." -Stadler, on the question of how comfortable his is on his new Kuota bike, a result of the German's newly acquired, big-money sponsorship package.

"On Saturday, the gun goes off and you go as fast as you can. I don't think [about strategy] in a race. I never think, ‘Oh, maybe if he has seven minutes, I can catch him.' Ironman is not a tactical race. I think I could do the same time alone without anyone else on the course. I think everyone here could, too." -Beke

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