Zsanett Bragmayer bosses Arena Games Triathlon Switzerland; 15-year-old Fanni Szalai is third

Hungarian athletes dominate the headlines in Switzerland, with Brit Olivia Mathias

Arena Games Triathlon, Sursee, Switzerland 2023,

Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer delivered a dominant performance at the second leg of Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift Switzerland. The 28-year-old won each of the three stages to produce a statement win ahead of the Arena Games final in London on April 8, having previously won the Singapore leg of Arena Games in 2022.

“I’m so happy with this win. I didn’t do anything special ahead of this
race, but I felt really good going into it. I wanted to prove it here. I really don’t like losing
and if you lose your focus then you’re out of the game.”

Zsanett Bragmayer
Arena Games Triathlon, Suseee, Switzerland 2023,

Bragmayer wasn’t the only Hungarian securing the headlines, however, with her coaching companion, the 15-year-old Fanni Szalai, making waves by first qualifying for the final in the morning’s heats, and then taking bronze in the final itself.

It may be Oscars weekend in Los Angeles, but there was plenty of star wattage on display 10,000km east in Sursee. The big pre-race story was Szalai becoming the youngest ever Arena Games athlete having only turned 15 in January, and who was racing at elite level for the first time.

Szalai was facing stiff opposition, however, including fellow Hungarian Bragmayer and the ultra-experienced short-course racer, Australia’s 31-year-old Emma Jackson.


The action began with a 200m pool swim, with the eight-length format rewarding any tumble turn specialists. The UK’s Olivia Mathias, 24, was the first to push the pace, with the Welsh racer closely followed out of the water by Bragmayer and Jackson.

Bragmayer and Mathias took an instant lead on the non-drafting 4km Zwift bike leg, opening up a 6sec advantage over the chasers by the 1km mark. That gap was maintained at the halfway mark, with Bragmayer edging Mathias into transition two to start the run in pole position.

Within 300m of the 1km run on elliptical treadmills, Bragmayer had created a 7sec advantage over Mathias, with Szalai and Jackson 12secs behind the leader. By the end of Stage 1, Bragmayer was 10secs clear of Mathias, with the 15-year-old Szalai comfortably beating the experienced Jackson into third.


The unique Arena Games format saw the athletes return to the treadmills for Stage 2’s opening 1km run, with home favourite Nora Gmür, 22, initially leading the field before the 15-year-old Szalai, racing without fear, powered to the front to finish the run 5secs ahead of Bragmayer.

The battle of the Hungarians on the 4km bike saw Bragmayer wipe out Szalai’s lead by the 1km mark, with Stage 1 force Mathias falling back to ninth. Home hopes were now being carried by Cathia Schär, who passed Szalai to move into second just ahead of T2.

After a frenetic transition, Bragmayer was first into the 200m swim, with Szalai losing valuable seconds due to a swimming cap malfunction. Schär was a chief beneficiary, but the race was soon becoming Bragmayer’s to lose, with the Hungarian taking the Stage 2 win by 17secs ahead of the Netherlands’ Rani Skrabanja. “I don’t like losing,” was Bragmayer’s mid-race verdict. Could anyone prevent her from reaching the podium’s top step?


The pursuit start of the final 200m swim saw Bragmayer have a 30sec advantage over Jackson, Schär, Szalai and Mathias into the water, and that advantage would remain by T1, with Szalai and Mathias her closest chasers.

Onto the 4km bike and, with Bragmayer’s lead of 30secs remaining, it was swiftly becoming a battle for the remaining podium spots between Szalai, Mathias, Jackson and Skrabanja. Mathias was the first to push the pace harder, moving into second to gain a 10sec advantage by T2.

After a slick transition, Bragmayer began the 1km run on the self-powered treadmill 30secs ahead of Mathias and maintained that advantage throughout. The drama was just behind her, with Mathias and Szalai locking horns. Szalai had the Brit athlete within touching distance with 100m to go, but couldn’t quite make the pass to take silver.

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