Defending Yokohama Triathlon champion Lisa Norden is not one to shy away from a challenge.
The Swedish Olympian will be defending her Yokohama title on Sept. 19, and that event will be the third triathlon in three weeks for Norden.
And if you think that's impressive, it gets better; She flies to the United States after Monday's race to take part in two more triathlons in America, making it five in five weeks on two continents for the 26-year-old blonde from Kristianstad.
This is the triathlon we're talking about here, not a few rounds of golf or an archery competition. The triathlon, comprised of a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim, a 40-km bike ride and capped off with a 10-km run, is one of the most grueling undertakings in sports.
Norden finished first at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 4, and placed fourth last weekend at the ITU World Championship Series Grand Final event in Beijing.
"Some of the women are much faster than me at the moment," Norden said at a Sept. 16 news conference at a Yokohama hotel, nodding to Australian Emma Jackson seated immediately to her left. "I've got to have a lot of luck if it's going to come out my way (on Sept. 19). But I'm pretty happy to be back in Yokohama and looking forward to getting out on the course."
The Yokohama Triathlon was originally scheduled to be held in May, but the event was pushed back to September after the events of March 11. Several athletes were worried about radiation contamination in the air and sea.
Norden, Jackson and another Australian, Brendan Sexton, all said they were over any fears they might have had regarding the fallout from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
"At the time, there were some issues if we had come here in May," said Norden, explaining that the Swedish government had put out an advisory against travel to Japan during that period. "But now the Swedish government doesn't see any radiation problems. I was speaking to some Japanese coaches in Beijing and they were more worried about the earthquakes than the radiation. There are some things you can't avoid in life but coming here I didn't feel in danger."
Sexton, currently 17th in the International Triathlon Union men's rankings and in the running to represent Australia at the 2012 Olympics, echoed those sentiments.
"We heard some things about the air and water quality here," he said. "I don't think the ITU or the Japanese organizing committee would hold an event if there were any risks of health issues at all. I have every faith that they have not put our health at risk from any fallback from the disaster. I think coming here now, for the Japanese people, is probably the best thing that we could do at this time."
Norden said if the Yokohama event had not been rescheduled, she would have been unable to take part due to injury. A damaged tendon in her foot prevented her from running for five weeks and she was not allowed to train at all for two weeks earlier this summer.
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