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Murray medals in Abu Dhabi, and Schoeman is also in the mix
- Updated: March 9, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s Commonwealth Games medallists Richard Murray and Henri Schoeman have opened the 2015 World Triathlon Series season with impressive displays in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
Murray won bronze (individual) and silver (team) in Glasgow last year while Schoeman was part of the team effort for silver.
On this occasion Murray took bronze with a time of 52min 50sec for the sprint event (750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5km run).
He was behind training partner Maria Mola of Spain (52:32) and France’s Vincent Luis (52:45).
Schoeman was 46sec back in 15th spot in Abu Dhabi, after leading out of T2 (second transition) and heading into the run leg.
It could have been even better for the formidable Murray. ‘Unfortunately, I had a bit of a fumble coming out of the water and had a bad first transition. Then I almost crashed during the cycling leg when somebody cut in front of me. The front wheel buckled, but I managed to keep going. That was my drama for the race. It was a good run and I could see Mario and the others put in some hard miles on the running.
‘But things worked out well. I had a good swim and then I was on the front group of the bike and gave it all on the run. So third was what I had on the day. What’s good to see is that the work is slowly paying off and I’m believing more in my swim and that’s really important,’ Murray told Road to Rio 2016, ahead of his long flight to Auckland, New Zealand for the next leg of the series.
Murray has been lapping up the swimming portion of his training in order to improve on the ‘weakest’ section of his three-phase skills.
‘I left SA at the end of November for training camps in Portugal and then Majorca and the work has been put in. I wanted to see a performance that lets South Africa and myself see that I can do well and get into a position, pull the trigger and get a gold medal for South Africa at the Rio Games.
‘Now it’s off to Auckland on that very long flight, for a month of training and the Auckland race and then on to Gold Coast, Australia and then back to Cape Town for the local race and a bit of a mid-season break.’
As for Schoeman, despite missing out on the top 10, the Durban based athlete took a lot out of the race.
‘It’s really good to have the first stop of the World Series in the system and out of the way. Nerves and tension were high as no-one is sure what form their competitors are in.
‘Abu Dhabi is a new course to the WTS calendar which also added to the excitement. It’s great to be back in the game this year.
‘I’m happy with 15th as it is a solid WTS result. It also shows that the hard work I have been doing on my running is paying off, and helping me gain Olympic points.’
Schoeman reckons that he wasn’t 100% on top of his game medically speaking. ‘I think I could’ve had a better result as my stomach was feeling sluggish and bloated during the race. I didn’t have as good a swim as I wanted, but I’m happy with my bike strength and positioning during the race.
‘I struggled with the first lap of the run but I managed to get into some kind of rhythm and started moving back up the field again. I’m really excited to race Auckland in three weeks time. It’s a true triathlon course because it is tough and there is no hiding in it!’
Meanwhile the women’s race saw Commonwealth silver medallist Gillian Sanders crash out of contention on the bike road but the good news is that no lasting damage has been done to the London based athlete.
That left Carlyn Fischer as the only South African entrant. Fischer who won the national championships in East London recently, ended 51st in a race won by American Gwen Jorgensen (58:59). Pretoria’s Fischer clocked 62:13.
Picture courtesy of ITU/Janos Schmidt