Abu Dhabi: Fares Al Sultan and Andreas Bocherer of Team Abu Dhabi Triathlon finished first and second respectively at the Regensburg Ironman in Germany on Sunday, qualifying the pair through to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on October 9.
It will be the first time the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority-backed outfit has had two representatives in the sport's showcase event.
As a former Ironman World Champion (2005), Al Sultan already had automatic qualification for the event but this win (8:13.37,2) substantiated his right to compete in Kona. It also handed teammate and fellow German Andreas Bocherer his first Ironman podium (8:18.28,3).
It will be Bocherer's second appearance at Kona, but he will be looking to improve on his last effort after a 2008 disqualification for drafting on the bike. Meanwhile Al Sultan looks set to make his ninth World Championship appearance in October, having won in 2005, and finishing third in 2004 and 2006.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News via a phone interview after the Regensburg win, Al Sultan, 32, said, "I took advantage of world record-holding Christof Wandratsch setting the pace in the water and managed to keep up with Andreas Bocherer who set the fastest bike split.
"So it was a full team effort. In the run Bocherer had a four minute lead but I managed to close him down in the fourth lap. I had side stitches in the last 5km and it was pure agony," Al Sultan said.
Bocherer, 27, added, "When you're leading for almost the entire race it's very disappointing at that moment for someone to overtake you in the last 35km, but after the race I'm very happy with my first podium."
Speaking of his chances at the World Championships Al Sultan said: "It's actually better to have done less Ironman races in the build up to Kona because it takes so much out of you, but mentally this is good preparation."
Al Sultan, the winner of this season's Ingolstadt and Kirchbichl minors said: "Realistically I couldn't run for seven weeks after a stress fracture sustained in March at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon.
"I can't run at my very best, so I'd need to improve the bike and swim to make up for it. Saying that Kona is tough for everyone and the conditions there actually suit me. I hope to improve on last year's tenth."