Maya Kingma in shock after heroic WTCS Leeds victory: “I didn’t dare to let it go to a sprint”

Maya Kingma to be the second Dutch athlete ever winning a WTCS-race. (Picture: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon)

She looked strong from start to finish. Maya Kingma needed all of that strength to take WTCS Leeds, where many of the strongest athletes in the world were racing. She’s now just the second Dutch athlete to win a WTCS race, and since her historic win her phone has been ringing off the hook. Through it all, she is very happy and surprised. “I didn’t necessarily see myself here as a candidate for a medal,” she told Dutch triathlon website, “let alone as a winner.”

Yet she will have to get used to the idea after her convincing win. “We all know that Rachel (Klamer) won in Abu Dhabi in 2018. That I managed to claim victory as well, against a strong field where nobody fell (there were a number of crashes at the Abu Dhabi race), is amazing. I really wasn’t expecting this,” she says with an enthusiastic laugh.

For a long time it was up in the air who would win the race in Leeds. During the run, Kingma ran alongside Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell, who was the first be dropped by Kingma’s deadly pace a few kilometers into the run. Learmonth was not discharged until a few hundred meters before the finish. “I had no idea how strong she was, but I did notice that I had an easier time on the downhill sections. She was stronger uphill, I thought. That’s why I didn’t want to wait until the last meters. There was a steep hill before the line, and I didn’t dare to wait. I had the idea that my legs wouldn’t like that, so I wanted to make a move before that.”

Kingma also noticed that Learmonth was breathing hard during the run. “Although that doesn’t tell me much. I know myself that I pant less than the average athlete I race against anyway, so that’s not necessarily a good indication.”

Does Kingma see herself as a serious contender for the Olympics in Tokyo now? After a third place in Yokohama and now a win in Leeds, it’s not a crazy thought. “I get that everyone thinks that, but I find it very hard to say. The main thing is that I race there, as I did in Leeds, very much in control. A good race plan is going to be decisive.”