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Sanders shines as first SA finisher at WTS in Cape Town

By Mark Etheridge

London Olympian Gillian Sanders was South Africa’s best finisher as the country hosted the continent’s first ever World Triathlon Series event at the Cape Town waterfront on Saturday.

Sanders ended 15th as Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson won her second WTS event on the trot after Auckland earlier this month.

The event became something of a lottery after the swim leg was halved to 750 metres from the normal 1500m due to the water temperature being below 14 deg Celcius.

Stimpson covered the 750m swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10km run in the scenic surrounds of the Mother City in 1hr 46min 11sec to hold out fellow UK athlete Helen Jenkins by seven seconds.

Stellenbosch’s Mari Rabie was the South African who hung on best in the swim as she managed to exit in the leading bunch, a huge benefit in this all-action sport.

She was part of a 12 strong bunch to shake off the thaw of the harbour waters and hung on to the leading bike bunch as they slowly pulled away from all chasers, even though the second and third bunch caught up in later stages.

But the run is Rabie’s weakest leg and Sanders hunted her down over the four legs, passing her before the last of the 2.5km legs.

Sanders ended with a time of 1:48:59 with Rabie next best South African in 1:50:16 in 27th spot.

Aferwards, London based Sanders, who has recently won both the national championships and the African Championships (in Zimbabwe) said: “I’m happy, especially with my running leg.

“I would have obviously have liked the longer swim and it was a case of catch-up after not getting the first bunch in the swim. I didn’t warm up in the water, it was ice-cold but once you were in you don’t really notice that much.

“The bike was also much of the same, in the second bunch and even although the third bunch caught up it was too near the end to really work together and catch the front runners.

“I’m very proud to South African today though,” she said as she crossed the line to thunderous applause. “You can’t beat this venue, all the elite athletes are talking about it and absolutely loving it as well.”

Said Rabie, over the moon at her finish: ÔÇ£My expectations weren’t high. It’s been two years since I’ve competed as I’ve been focusing on my studies. I’ve only been training for four months and I knew the run would be the big challenge.

“I’m somewhat disappointed with my swim because I’m usually a strong swimmer. I’m so happy though that I have competed today and it’s great to be back!ÔÇØ

Sunday sees the elite men fighting it out at 3pm over the same course, although sea temperature will decide the length of the swim leg.


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