Henri makes merry in Morocco to take African title | SASCOC - SASCOC

Henri makes merry in Morocco to take African title

By Mark Etheridge

Henri Schoeman’s great run of form on the international triathlon circuit continued with a win on his home continent at the weekend.

Durban based Schoeman has been in action on opposite ends of the globe in the last couple of months and it was great for him to at least stay in Africa on this occasion.

This time out it was the African Championships in Agadir, Morocco and Schoeman came up trumps to take the men’s elite title.

He covered the 1500-metre swim, 40km bike and 10km run in 1hr 54min 14sec, holding off world junior champion and fellow South African Wian Sullwald to take the honours.

Sullwald was second, 14sec back and Wicus Weber filled out the podium in 1:56:05.

Going into the race Schoeman was a little worried about the effects of all his recent international travel but everything fell into place on raceway.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be fresh coming into the race after already racing three big events within the last two months, the last two of them being in completely different time zones, one in San Diego and the other in Yokohama. I also didn’t get the opportunity to rest as well as I wanted to for this event,” he told Road to Rio 2016.

“With good form right out of Yokohama I was confident for a good result. My plan was to see how the race unfolds and play it safe, because I didn’t want to blow up towards the end. It all worked out very well.

“But I had probably my easiest swim in a triathlon yet, I tried a couple of times to stretch the field and ended up with a group of four which included Wian and Wikus, and Daniel Halksworth from Britain. We worked well together on a course that was a little harder than it seemed.”

The quartet soon pulled clear and it meant the podium places would be decided between them. “I felt good on the run. The pace in the first 5km wasn’t fast at all, so I tried surging a couple of times to maybe get a gap and hopefully hurt the legs of Wian and Wikus. But they were running really well and sticking to my pace. Wian took out the next 5km very fast. Then Wikus soon fell off and I was just trying to hang on.

“With about 2km to go Wian tired up and slowed down, I tried to keep the pace up by surging a couple of times but it wasn’t enough and the title came down to a sprint. The last kilometre I kept the pace up and with about 300m to go I just went for it. Wian hung on but soon fell off and left me to take the victory. It was truly one of my most special moments when I crossed the line to take my first African Championship title.

“It has been a really great year so far. My performance compared to last year is worlds apart. I have massively improved on the ITU rankings where I am now 45th and 20th on the World Triathlon Series Rankings. To put it into perspective, I only received my first ITU points last year in February!”

Schoeman was also quick to acknowledge support from his family, friends and girlfriend and says all his prize money goes directly to his parents to help him compete in more international races.

“Now I get a little rest before I complete some training in preparation for the remainder of the World Triathlon Series.”

In the elite women’s race it was a clean sweep for South Africa with London based Gillian Sanders taking the continental title in 2:10:01from Anel Radford (2:11:53) and All Africa Games champion Carlyn Fischer (2:16:004).