It looked like Great Britain’s Stimpson was going to be celebrating back-to- back victories in the UAE as she led down the home straight at Yas Marina Circuit.
But a repeat of her 2016 triumph in the capital was not to be as New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt surged past her in a thrilling sprint finish to claim her first win since the 2011 Grand Final in Beijing.
Stimpson, however, was thrilled with second place after her 2016 season fell off a cliff after her win here 12 months ago.
Stimpson, a double gold medal winner at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, lost out on selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to Non Stanford, Helen Jenkins and Vicky Holland, before an Achilles injury then ended her campaign.
And she admitted she will gain confidence from her fine start to the season in the Emirates.
“It definitely does give me confidence, but in the same breath I’m not taking it for granted as this is how last season started,” said Stimpson, who switched coach to Adam Elliott in the off-season.
“I’m not saying I decreased going into the (second race in the) Gold Coast last season because I didn’t, but I’ve been refreshed again. It took a long time after last year so I’m excited moving forward.
“After a really tough year last year and working really closely with my new coach, coming into a new environment and new people to work with, everything’s changed.
“There’s one thing I want to say, I couldn’t have done it without my management team and my family. My manager surprised me by coming out today. My family couldn’t come out but they got me through last year and I owe them so much.”
Andrea Hewitt paid an emotional tribute to fiance Laurent Vidal after winning her first ITU World Triathlon Series in six seasons at the 2017 season-opener in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Vidal, a former triathlete who finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, died of a heart attack aged just 31 in November 2015.
The Frenchman, who had been forced to retire in April 2014 after suffering a cardiopulmonary arrest during a swimming training session, instead turned to coaching partner Hewitt – who has also featured in the triathlon at the last three Olympics where she has finished seventh (2016), sixth (2012) and eighth (2008).
“I’m definitely dedicating this to Laurent,” the 34-year- old Hewitt said of Vidal – who she had been due to marry in early 2016.
“Laurent always told me I had everything. I had the dedication, I had integrity, I had talent, he told me probably the one thing I was
missing was emotion and I didn’t show it most of the time. There was so much emotion (today). Coming here and winning, I’ve got no words.”
It was a first time on top of the podium at a WTS race for Hewitt since the 2011 Grand Final in Beijing – a result that saw her claim second place overall. She was also runner-up in the 2015 series and has finished third three times too (2009, 2012, 2014).
Despite suffering such a personal trauma, the Christchurch native stated that competing has helped her cope.
“I love triathlon and this is what I do,” she added.
“To keep going, for me, that was the normal route. There was no talk of giving up, there was nothing else for me to do.
“I have to pay tribute to (training partner) Maddie Dillon who’s been beside me the last year and knows exactly what I’ve been going through, so I just want to say thank you to her as well as my friends and family.
“There were so many changes last year. I had a lot of support though and I’m really thankful to the people around me.”
'If I was going to lose to anyone I'm glad it was to Andrea and a sprint finish!' @jodiestimpson congratulates the 2017 champ @andreahewittnz #WTSAbuDhabi #InAbuDhabi #triathlon #unitedbytriathlon #swimbikerun #worldtriathlon#weekend #UAE #fitspo . " إذا كنت سأخسر أمام أحد فإنني سعيدة أنها آندريا" - جودي ستيمبيون تهنئ بطلة ٢٠١٧ . #في_أبوظبي #ترايثلون #ترايثلون_أبوظبي #ترايثلون_يجمعنا
Hewitt claimed a breath-taking triumph at Yas Marina Circuit, digging deep in a pulsating sprint finish to burst past reigning Abu Dhabi champion Jodie Stimpson in the final 10 metres.
The veteran kiwi was around 15 seconds down after emerging from the swim – two laps on two separate legs around Yas Marina.
Spain’s Carolina Routier led at the that point but was quickly swallowed up by the likes of Hewitt and Stimpson.
As the field headed onto the iconic Formula One track for the 40km cycle, a breakaway group of nine started to form, led by Stimpson and Australia’s Gillian Backhouse.
Nine became four as they swapped the saddle for their trainers, with the winner looking like it would come from one of Britian’s Stimpson, Hewitt, Austria’s Sara Vilic or Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands.
Klamer eventually fell back during the final four laps of running, with Hewitt triumphing in thrilling fashion ahead of Stimpson, while Vilic was able to reflect on a first-ever WTS podium seven seconds behind.
“It was such a close race with Jodie, we were neck and neck out of the water and rode really well together and we were side by side in the run too,” added Hewitt.
“I think she was quicker on the uphill but as we came into the flat we were side by side. I’ve always got confidence I can win. I didn’t know how Jodie was going to go. She led from 400m to go and I just hung on and timed it perfectly.”
Congratulations to the 2017 ITU WTS Abu Dhabi champion @andreahewittnz as well as @jodiestimpson and @saravilic and all the elites racing today. What a gripping day of racing! 🏊🏼♀️🚴🏻♀️🏃🏻♀️ نهنئ بطلة سباق سلسلة الترايثلون العالمية في أبوظبي 2017 أندريا هيويت ونهنئ كذلك جودي ستيمبسون وسارة فيليتش اللاتي فازتا بالمركز الثاني و الثالث في سباق النخبة ونهنئ معهما جميع الرياضيات اللواتي شاركن في سباق النخبة اليوم. ياله من يوم مذهل!
Stimpson, 28, was upbeat with her performance despite being pipped on the line.
“Maybe I went too early, I don’t know. That was all I had, I had nothing else left to give, there was no more speed left in my legs. Second was all I had and I’m happy with that,” she said.
“I was stronger on the uphill but Andrea was the stronger on every lap coming into the flat section and I know she’s renowned for her sprint.
“I was at full stretch when she came past and I had no chance. If I was going to lose to anyone in a sprint finish today I’m glad it was Andrea because we worked really hard on our bikes.”
Three years ago the Emirati weighed just shy of a whopping 200kg, thanks in large part of a regular fast food diet that would often see him consume three triple whopper burgers in one sitting.
His obesity was so alarming he required surgery because he was struggling to walk. However, it was just the wake-up call he needed.
The 32-year-old lost 100kg in 12 months and is now preparing to compete in the Olympic distance of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Kasim will undertake a 1,500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run around the event’s revamped Yas Island route – the same distance that the elite male and female athletes will be competing in.
It comes a month after Kasim completed the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in a very respectable time of five hours and eight minutes, having only entered three weeks beforehand.
“If I can do it anyone can, and this is what I want to do. I want to inspire others to do the same,” said Kasim, who is head of corporate communications for a government sector in Dubai.
“I was obese, I accepted that. My life has completely changed since I started training when I was 29. I lost the weight so it’s like since I turned 30 I’ve entered a new life. The lesson I’ve learnt is nothing is impossible and start small. No matter where you start.”
Kasim puts his transformation down to coach Marcus Smith and his team at Dubai-based gym Inner Fight, where he started taking up CrossFit in a desperate bid to shed the pounds.
“I am willing to support anyone. It changed my life and I hope I can change others’ lives,” added Kasim, who joked the Dubai Marathon was “the longest run of my life”.
“My friends have since started losing weight and training. I have a friend who was 220kg and he was only 22. He started coming to the gym with me. He has lost 40kg in a few months already.”
As well as dedicating himself to training, transforming his diet dramatically has also been key for Kasim.
“Before I would eat white bread for every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he adds.
“I would have a sweet with every meal, whether it was fruit or cake, chocolate and sweets. Dinner would mostly be fast food or eating out at a restaurant.
“I would go to a fast food restaurant in the evening and would have three triple whopper burgers. So nine burgers altogether. Sometimes I would eat two but if I did not feel satisfied I would eat three. A minimum of two and maximum of three, with one or two portion of fries.
“Now I eat maybe a boiled egg and banana for breakfast. At lunch half a kilo of salmon or grilled chicken with salad or quinoa. For dinner lentil soup, nothing too heavy, perhaps chicken breast with sweet potato.
“Hydration was a big point too. I would not drink a lot of water. People think if you drink water you put on weight. You should drink three litres per day or four to five if you’re doing exercise.”