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SA trio blitz to win
- Updated: February 29, 2012
Our top women’s triathletes have blown away the opposition in Brazil to win the prestigious Fast Triathlon event held at the weekend.
Andrea Steyn, winner of the 2011 BSG-Energade series, All Africa Games champion Carlyn Fischer and Vicky van der Merwe (recently back from a lengthy injury break) represented the green and gold at Arraial do Cobo, just outside Rio de Janeiro.
The format of the competition was three sprint races held in quick succession. Athletes had to complete a 250-metre sea swim, four kilometre bike ride and 1.2km run and were awarded points for individual positions. These were added up and the totals represented the different country’s points.
Rest period between each race was largely determined by television networks, with the event being broadcast live to 140 countries. the break worked out at roughly 10-12 minutes between races.
South Africa were up against South American countries, Brazil, Chile, Colombia as well as teams from the United States and Spain. From the get-go the strong American team were targeted by the South African trio as the team to beat.
After the day’s racing, South Africa emerged triumphant with 130 points, just eight points ahead of the US and some way clear of Spain (74 points).
The girls arrived back in South Africa on Tuesday and Steyn took time out to take Road to London 2012 through the three heats of intense racing.
“All 18 girls lined up on the white beach awaiting the horn to signal the start of the race. It was a long run into the 16 degree ocean. The first part of the swim consisted mostly of dolphin diving and I was lucky to be in the front part of the race before the first buoy. The swim went by so fast and Sara McLarty (USA) already opened a 20-second gap. The run from the beach to the transition area was almost 150m on thick beach sand. This was also to our advantage as this run could determine your position on the bike and time lost during the swim. Sara and Carlyn managed to hold their gap during the cycle leg and it was the rest of the USA and South Africans to battle it out on the run. The run was extremely fast. Carlyn finishing first with me in third place and Vicky in fourth place. After the first heat RSA was in the lead by six points.
“I was very happy with my swim exciting the water in third. The bike was more or less similar with Sara in the lead. The RSA and the other two USA girls were all together on the bike. Again it came down to the run but in this heat Kelly Whitley (USA) broke the ribbon first. I managed to snatch second place, Vicky third and Carlyn fifth. Again only a few points separated us from Team USA. We had to make sure we finish before the Americans in the last heat as anything could still happen.
“After two fast races the lactic acid certainly seeped in and the chats before the start of the race were a lot less, everybody seemed exhausted. Again I had a good swim and was in a good position for the bike. Sara had a small lead and I managed to close the gap in two laps. Very happy to see that my team mate Vicky was on my wheel and Sara, myself and Vicky had a 10-second lead off the bike. In such a short race 10 seconds is huge. I felt very strong during the first lap on the run and was very relieved to take the win in the final race. Vicky was in a close third and Carlyn in sixth place. Was very proud of the girls, as we managed to take the win by eight points.
Said Fischer, who thought she had come down with a bug in the days leading up to the competition: “The crowd was awesome and they supported us all the way, cheering us along and creating a great vibe. My team’s performance was great and I’m so happy and proud of them! We raced hard in the hot conditions to take the overall win. I missed my bike saddle twice but had fast transitions which are important in a short race. The long run up to T1 changed the positions and the six laps on the cycle meant many 180 degree turns so technical skills were important. The run leg was a full-out 1200m each time.
“I took the win in the first heat, with USA winning Heat Two and my team mate Andrea winning Heat Three. USA placed second overall and Spain placed third. It was tough but we worked well as a team right till the end.”