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Williams races to silver at World Championships
- Updated: September 14, 2014
Former world triathlon champion Viv Williams has once again flown the South African flag with aplomb, writes Mark Etheridge.
Competing in the World 70.3 Age-Group Championships in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, Cape Town’s Williams came within a whisker of winning the prestigious event.
Her race consisted of a 1.9-kilometre lake swim, a 90km cycle and a standard half-marathon (21.1km) run leg.
That entailed less than a minute shy of five hours of non-stop action for Williams, centre of above picture, as she clocked 4hr 59min 03sec. Just one athlete was quicker on the day and that was Australian Caroline Anderson who came past in the very last kilometre of the race to win in 4:58:42.
Adding another SA connection to the tale was that Anderson was formerly from South Africa before moving to West Australia.
Making her silver medal that much more satisfying was the fact that Williams is still suffering from a hamstring tendon injury picked up at the WTS event in Cape Town almost five months ago. It was this that hampered her running and allowed Anderson to hunt her down in the final stages.
‘I was so excited to race although I have come through a winter with little run training,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. ‘I suffered a right hamstring tendon tear in Cape Town on 26 April. I was not able to run at all for 10 weeks. I started running just four weeks out from World Champs. I was unsure whether I would actually be able to run the entire 21.1km, so was really just looking for a finish. My SA mates who I was sharing the house with assured me that the Finishers medal was well worth finishing the race for.
‘There was no pressure on me to perform and unusually I felt no nerves at the swim start. I came out of the water in second position and had a great first transition, which consisted of being stripped out of our wetsuits by ‘”wetsuit strippers” and a 400m run to the change tent.
‘I have spent the winter swimming and cycling as I could not run. The bike route was very hilly and tough, particularly the final 16km being very hilly and challenging. I had the fastest bike split and was now lying in first position. I wish I had known this, but you don’t really know as there are so many athletes out on the road. I knew I had to run conservatively as 21.1km is a long way on little run training. I set out at 4.45/4.50 pace, and tried to slow down as I was concerned for the length of the race.
‘The kilometres ticked by consistently, but at 17km I seemed to start struggling. There was a nasty little ascent at 19.5km and a very nasty long uphill in the final kilo. I had no idea that I was being chased down until this Aussie came flying past me on the final ascent to pip me to the post. She also had her mother and husband spectating the race and giving her splits from me.
‘In retrospect I could not have asked for a better race. I am thrilled that I could finish on the podium in second. I will be going back again though as there is a goal that has not quite been met.’
And Williams says she’ll take that silver medal on this occasion. ‘Initially I was hoping for a third world age group title, but after struggling for so long with the injury, I knew it would not happen – I didn’t know that I would be so close though!). ‘Williams has previously won the global age-group title in 2007 (Germany) and then two years ago in Spain.
The Cape Town mother of two as also been finding her feet in the management arena. She managed the triathlon code at the African Youth Games in Botswana in May and then performed the same role in Edmtonton, for the World Olympic Distance Grand Final a few days before her own race.
‘Managing teams is a really demanding job, I’d far rather be competing,’ is her take on the task.
There was also more recognition of her contribution to triathlon’s cause. ‘While I was in Edmonton, I was asked to attend the ITU Annual Congress, held at the Shaw Conference Centre. I was the recipient of the Annual Global award presented by the ITU Womens’ Committee for Excellence.’