November 28, 2022

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Braden Currie thrilled with bronze medal at world Ironman championship in Utah

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New Zealand’s Braden Currie was “stoked’’ with his bronze medal as he became the first Kiwi male multisporter on the Ironman world championship podium for 17 years.

The 35-year-old from Wānaka finished third in St George, Utah behind Norway’s Tokyo Olympic Games triathlon gold medallist Kristian Blummenfelt and Canada’s Lionel Sanders, a four-time Ironman champion.

New Zealand's Braden Currie grabs a drink of water on his way to third place at the world Ironman championships in Utah.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

New Zealand’s Braden Currie grabs a drink of water on his way to third place at the world Ironman championships in Utah.

Currie became the first New Zealander on the podium since Cameron Brown in 2005.

He was leading the race on Saturday at the 30km mark of the run before being passed by the impressive Blummenfelt.

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Braden Currie getting congratulated at the finish line in St George, Utah.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Braden Currie getting congratulated at the finish line in St George, Utah.

In a nail-biting finish, Currie came close to claiming silver until the last 800m of the 226km race where he was agonisingly overtaken by Sanders.

Currie claimed bronze in a time of 7hr 54min 19sec. Taupō’s Kyle Smith, in only his second ever full distance Ironman and at his first world championship, finished 11th in 8hr 08 min 08 sec.

“Awesome day of racing to be honest,’’ said Currie, who was “in a really good group in the swim’.

He was also grateful to be in a bunch of “all kind of lighter, smaller guys but not absolute animal bikers” on the gruelling cycling leg.

Currie said he “didn’t feel amazing’’ on the run, but “looking at the times they were still pretty fast times”.

He said he “stoked’’ with his bronze medal. “It’s amazing, Ironman world champs third and in the front of the race most of the day and a bit of a sprint finish toward the end’’.

Currie had set out to improve on his previous best placed Ironman world championship finish of fifth in 2018.

New Zealand's Kyle Smith (L), followed by Florian Angert of Germany and Kiwei compatriot Braden Currie on the bike leg at the world Ironman championships.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

New Zealand’s Kyle Smith (L), followed by Florian Angert of Germany and Kiwei compatriot Braden Currie on the bike leg at the world Ironman championships.

He began in the best possible fashion, exiting out of the water from the swim in the lead group, alongside fellow Kiwi Smith.

Out of the first transition into the start of the 180km bike, Currie had clawed his way to the front of the pack with Smith just behind in third.

Both Currie and Smith took turns at the front over the tough, hilly bike course and the Kiwis were once again in the lead group into the second transition.

Smith held the lead over the first 5km of the run before Currie took over.

Currie steadily began to pull away from Smith and held onto that position until the 30km mark. Unfortunately for Currie, the fast-finishing Blummenfelt had been reeling in the leaders for the duration of the run and eventually snatched the lead from the fading Currie.

Braden Currie put in a strong run in hot conditions in Utah.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Braden Currie put in a strong run in hot conditions in Utah.

“I ran a really hard and fast first half,” Currie said. “I think I got through maybe 1:15/6 through that first half and I guess I just thought if he’s going to run that much faster, then my only chance is that he’s going to completely detonate so just hold strong, I wasn’t going to kick and try and go with him so incredible, amazing performance,” said Currie.

Blummenfelt, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games champion who set an Ironman course record on debut, showed
his class as he extended his lead.

With such a strong men’s field, not many tipped Currie for the top three but the Wānaka athlete proved his mettle.

This is a year like no other for Ironman, with the rescheduled 2021 world championship in St. George taking place ahead of the 2022 world championship in Kona, Hawai’i in October. 

After their placings in St George, Currie and Smith have both booked starts for the Kona event.

 Currie hopes for another strong race in Hawaii.

“I like the heat and I’ve got a really good lead in this year and I’m looking forward to it so again it just depends a lot how it unfolds and what happens.”

To cap a memorable day for the Kiwis, Hamilton’s Matt Kerr, 30,became an age-group world Ironman champion.

Results

Ironman men’s world championship at St George, Utah.

  1. Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR, 7:49:16
  2. Lionel Sanders, CAN, 7:54:03
  3. Braden Currie, NZL, 7:54:19
  4. Chris Leiferman, USA, 7:57:51
  5. Florian Angert, DEU, 7:59:35
  6. Leon Chevalier, FRA, 8:01:41
  7. Daniel Bækkegård, DNK, 8:02:06
  8. Sam Laidlow, FRA, 8:02:56
  9. David McNamee, GBR, 8:04:36
  10. Ben Hoffman, USA, 8:06:38
  11. Kyle Smith, NZL, 8:08:08

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