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Murray, Roberts rule

Our Richard Murray and Kate Roberts were top of the pile as South African athletes dominated the Africa Triathlon Championships in Maputo, Mozambique.

Seven countries contested the championships and as expected, South Africa dominated, provided five of the top men’s finishers and the first two places in the Elite women’s category.

In the men’s race, despite Abrahm Louw (Namibia) opening a 2min 40sec lead on the bike (the Under-23 and Elite categories raced simultaneously but in different categories), Murray and Hendrik de Villiers were able to chase him down.

Murray, 22, went on to beat 2008 champion De Villiers by 13 seconds with Claude Eksteen rounding out the podium, finishing one minute later. Murray clocked 1hr 57min 43sec.

Roberts, the world’s 12th ranked triathlete at the end of last year, has battled with injury and illness for the last few months but is starting to regain form as shown by her improved showing at the ITU World Championships Series in Kitzbuhel, Austria last month. She stopped the clock at 2:14.04 with Gillian Sanders in second (2:15:55).

Back to Murray though and he showed immense potential as a junior winning the 2007/8 World Duathlon title before making the the transition to triathlon. His Achilles heel when he did switch to triathlon was without a doubt his swim which often left the prolific cyclist and strong runner with too much work to do in those legs to secure podium places.

But Murray wanted to be a world-class athlete so with the brutal self analysis often required of any elite athlete his training intensity and swim-stroke changed and slowly but surely he was starting to show the kind of results his potential always said he could achieve.

Last year was an up and down year for him, but he kept showing glimpses of what could be. A 14th place at the Singapore ITU Asian Premium Cup, was followed by wins in the U-3 African Triathlon and Duathlon Championships. Murray continued his good form with a fourth place finish at the ITU Brasschaat European Triathlon Cup. Brasschaat would become a happy hunting ground for Murray as he went on to win the race in 2011.

This year started off with a ninth place finish at the African Cup in Port Elizabeth, after a hard ÔÇ£winterÔÇØ and a focus on a long International Season. The 22-year-old had a disappointing race in the Quartera European Cup as he finishing 48th. But then came Brasschaat and it all changed. Murray won that race and with that announced he is not merely a good competitor, he is a very dangerous and talented triathlete ÔÇô and he has time on his side.

There was more continental success for South Africa as Wian Sullwald also won in Maputo. The 2010 Olympic Youth Games representative beat Mauritius athlete Mattieu Marnett by three minutes to take the junior men’s title in 1:03:30, the youngsters racing over a shorter course.

Other success for Team South Africa was the fact that provided second and third in the men’s Under-23 category, second, third and fourth in the junior women, second and third in the Under-23 women.

Windy weather saw the swim leg being shortened to 1200m from the usual 1500m.


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