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Coach: Kate will be back

Despite our top-ranked triathlete Kate Roberts not finishing the London leg of the ITU World Championship Series in London last weekend, her coach says patience will be key for a return to form, writes Mark Etheridge.

Roberts has struggled all year, against both injury and illness and is yet to reach the heights that saw her end 2010 as the world’s seventh best women’s triathlete.

At the weekend she completed both the 1500-metre swim and 40 kilometre cycle but her race was run in the final running leg over 10km.

Explained her coach Darren Smith on Thursday: “I pulled her out because we had achieved what we came to seeÔǪ and that was a great look at the London race course.

“Also she had cramp in a little leg muscle down the side of her leg and was going backwards and there was no point in leaving her to suffer for no nett gain.”

In terms of performance official splits show that there’s a fine line between shining and suffering. Roberts’ South African colleague Gillian Sanders finished 23rd in the same event. But she was actually slower out of the water (20min 34sec compared to the 20:05 of Roberts). Then Roberts was 34sec quicker on the bike meaning there was less than 10 seconds separating them.

Smith is of the opinion that the swim leg is causing problems right now and once that is sorted the rest should hopefully drop into place. “Training performances have been very close to last year’s terrific standard so it won’t be long but confidence has taken a kicking as you would expect. We can’t seem to get the first leg of the swim to the first buoy up to scratch, partly from her own swimming aspect and also that she gets hammered by the other girls.

“Last year we had a bit more ‘oomph’ and got away clean from the carnage and on to have a good race. This year it’s been the exact opposite. That’s the luck of the draw though and sometimes it it depends on who you stand next to on the pontoon whether it gets ugly or not.”

But Smith continues to believe in his charge. “We’re keeping a good attitude, work hard every day and come out in 4-5 weeks and do our bestÔǪ

“The force of external expectation is a killer at times and the only way to learn how to cope with it is to suffer, regroup and fight like hell. That’s why the transfer from World Champs the year preceding an Olympics to any podium placing is so low (less than 30% or so),” reckoned Smith.

Smith also had high praise for Sanders’ achievements thus far this season. “Gillian has been doing extremely well and it’s a tribute for her to step up. Hopefully she continues her improvement because it’s great for SA.”

Sanders will be in action again this weekend at the ITU World Cup event in Tiszaujvaro, or “Tiszy” as it’s known in the triathlon world.


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