By Kent Gray/
A heat wave enveloping Southeast Asia and a reported training crash involving series leader Magnus Ditlev has added further intrigue to this weekend’s T100 races in Singapore featuring Kiwis Kyle Smith, Amelia Watkinson and Rebecca Clarke.

The New Zealand trio will make their season bows in the second round of the PTO-World Triathlon sanctioned ‘T100 Triathlon World Tour’ and can expect temperatures nudging the late 20s C in Marina Bay. Watkinson, a contracted T100 athlete, and Clarke are first up in Saturday’s women’s race from 6:15pm NZT while the men go at 7:15pm on Sunday NZT.

Live streaming coverage is available on Triathlonlive.TV or via the T100 YouTube Channel, with buildup starting 15 minutes before each of the races.

Expect hot action in every sense of the word even if Ditlev, who won the men’s season opener in Miami, looks unlikely to start after reportedly breaking a wrist in a bike crash. It is understood sometimes Tauranga resident Javier Gomez is also a scratching.

Heat will be a serious factor. Schools in the Philippines have suspended classes with the mercury tipping 42 degrees C while CNN has reported Vietnam declaring a state of emergency after “abnormally high temperatures in the south dried up entire rice fields.”

There were fears earlier this week that temperatures exceeding World Triathlon standards might jeopardise racing in Singapore although forecasts for the weekend don’t exceed 30 degrees C.

That’s good news for fans but won’t make it much easier for the athletes as Smith revealed on landing in the Island state earlier this week.

“Touchdown Singapore. Got a sweat on carrying my bags from the airport to the bus… this place ain’t no joke,” the Taupo 25-year-old said.

Smith, named PTO athlete of the month for February for his runaway Challenge Wanaka triumph, is racing Singapore on a wildcard. He’s gone to creative lengths to prep for the steamy Singapore.

“Glad I spent the last two weeks in the garage, with the heater on, and the dryer, and [in] a jacket. Respect the heat. Be the heat 🔥.”

Ditlev’s likely scratching barely diminishes the quality of the men’s field with the Sam’s, Laidlow from France, and Long from the USA, two to watch. Long brings sensational form into Singapore, having fought from near the back of the field out of the swim in Miami to second before repeating the silver medal performance at last weekend’s Ironman Pro Series season-opener at Oceanside 70.3 in Southern California.

Laidlow, the reigning Ironman world champion, was 9th in Miami and it will likewise be fascinating to see how Alistair Brownlee, the Brit who faded on the run to 5th, fares in the Singapore sweat.

Saturday’s women’s race is arguably even more enticing with the return of Aussie Ashleigh Gentle, the “Queen” of T100 racing. Throw in Kona champion Lucy Charles-Barclay, fellow Brit Miami winner India Lee and reigning Ironman NZ champion Chelsea Sodaro and the 2km swim, 80km bike, 18km run shapes as a must watch.

Sodaro might surprise them all, especially with her bike gains training under North Shore-based Dr. Dan Plews during a big New Year training block Down Under.

It will be interesting to see where the ever-consistent Watkinson and Clarke, who recently announced an amicable split from longtime coach Rod Dallimore, stack up.

Watkinson is fizzing after “another jolly good block in Queensland’s heat chamber”. The Sunshine Coast-based Kiwi, 32, is 18th in the latest PTO rankings, the highest of the New Zealand women, and is coming off 5th place in the full race at Ironman NZ in March.

Clarke, 35, is 39th in the PTO rankings and will look to build on 4th and 2nd placings at the Tauranga Half and Challenge Wanaka respectively. The Aucklander finished 13th at the PTO Asian Open in Singapore last year, a fortnight after placing 16th at the PTO US Open in Milwaukee.

She’ll kick on from Singapore to race Texas (Aril 27) and Cairns, both Ironman Pro Series events, in the hope of securing qualification for the September 22 Ironman women’s world championship in Nice.

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