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Schoeman hugely encouraged after sixth spot in Japan

By Mark Etheridge

Part of a fine South African performance at the World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan at the weekend, Henri Schoeman brings home heaps of hope and inspiration from the far east.

Schoeman made amends for his disappointing finish in San Diego to seal sixth spot, his best achievement on the triathlon scene to date.

He covered the 1500-metre swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run in 1:47:26, just three seconds behind London Olympian Richard Murray, while our female Olympians from 2012, Kate Roberts and Gill Sanders, ended seventh and 12th in the women’s race.

Schoeman had a solid swim and kept contact with the leaders. “By 300m I managed to get into third, using the inside lane around the buoys. I knew the pace was hard because the front three made a little gap on me and another athlete towards the end of the swim but I managed to bridge the gap just as we exited the water to secure my spot in the breakaway with a fast transition,” he told Road to Rio 2016.

With rain playing a big role on the cycling section, that proved Schoeman’s toughest test of the day. “I was part of the breakaway of eight athletes and when I got the chance to roll to the front I did, but unfortunately it only came about four or five times. The rain made the course very dangerous with lots of white lines and manholes.

“I think I may have over pumped my tyres because I could feel my wheels slipping on almost every corner. So it was a real test for me, physically and mentally. I lost time on every corner and had to dig deep to bridge the gap every time. I had to stay focused for the entire bike ÔÇô one slip up and the race could’ve have been over.”

He lost some valuable time and places on the bike but his efficient second transition was the quickest of the elite field, along with Murray and he was just behind Javier Gomez, Jonathan Brownlee and Joao Silva.

“I dug deep on the run to hang on to their pace and feel what it’s like but they were just too quick. I tried to maintain the speed I set out in the first kilometre but after three laps it started to really sink in and hurt.”

And it didn’t help matters that Murray was closing fast in his strongest leg of the three-phase event. “I could see Richard was running very quickly and I tried to hold him off but he was just too strong with the second fastest run on the day to pass me with 400m to the finish.”

Schoeman was happy to play his part in providing publicity for triathlon. “This is really great for South Africa’s recognition in triathlon.”

And personally? “I am really happy with my result. If I have to compare where I was just one and a half years agoÔǪ it’s worlds apart. If I can continue to improve in training and racing the way I am, I believe I will soon be very competitive on the run too.”

Durban based Schoeman was also quick to acknowledge his support base, both at the race and back home. “I have to give thanks to my family for getting me to this race and compete. I must also thank them as well as my girlfriend [Franzel Allen] and many other friends and supporters who supported me in Yokohama and back home in South Africa!”

There’s not much respite before racing again though. “I’m racing the African Championships in Morocco next weekend and then I’ll use June to recover a little and get in a good training block before I compete in the Palamos World Cup in Spain.”


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