We caught up with three of the top women's contenders - Heather Wurtele, Radka Vodickova and Ellie Salthouse before the Challenge Championship.
June 2, 2017 | PERSONALITY|
On paper Heather Wurtele is the woman to beat at the Championship tomorrow. She arrives confident in her ability, but all too aware of just how talented her competition is and how fickle things can be on race day. (She's Canadian, remember!)
"I have over 20 half distance wins and the last three years I’ve been on the podium at the world champs, so I feel confident at this distance," she says. "I’ve been in championship form and raced with the best at this distance, but on the day it’s all chips are in and you try to have your best performance. But your previous results don’t define what will happen on the day. I always keep that in mind …"
"I am confident – I love the 20 m draft zone. There are some incredible swimmers in the field – Lucy Charles comes from the background of being a distance swimmer – they’re going to have some minutes on me out of the water, but when it’s a 20 m draft zone and everyone has their nose to the wind I definitely feel like I can ride to the front of the race. It was like that at Challenge Dubai – the 20 m draft zone – and I thought it was great."
After racing on the ITU scene for many years, Australian Ellie Salthouse has been making her mark on the half-distance scene over the last few years.
"This is my second season racing half distance," she says. "Last year was a really big confidence builder for me – I wasn’t sure how I’d sit in the half-distance coming from ITU. I had a great season and it’s really carried through to this season. I think this year I am a lot stronger and my confidence is a lot better."
"I love racing the best – if you want to be the best you have to race against the best. I love being pushed right to the line. I like being in a race where there are lots of people around me, races where I know where I am. You’re able to get more out of yourself when you have someone pushing you shoulder to shoulder, and I think its going to be more of that tomorrow. There are going to be a lot of girls contending for the win and anyone could take it out."
Radka (Vodickova) Kahlefeldt
Originally from the Czech Republic, Radka Vodickova is now married to Australian Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt and spends most of her time in Australia. (She traveled from home to Samorin with her mother - she called it a "girl's weekend!")
"It’s amazing to be able to come and race this close to home and I am really impressed by this venue," she says. "This is our neighbor country and it’s just heaven here. This race is going to have a big history."
"I had a really good start at the beginning of the year … then I had a bit of a low – I had a stress fracture – but I worked myself back up. When I traveled to the Czech Republic I got a stomach bug on the flight, but I think I am ready to race. I am really motivated because it is such a strong field and such a beautiful venue."
"I couldn’t pick a favorite – there are so many good girls and it depends how you wake up," she continues. "I think its going to be a very fast swim – there are some good swimmers and girls from ITU so it’s going to be fast right from swimming, through the bike with the strong cyclists and then on the run with the fast ITU runners who will pick up a few places."