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SA triathletes dominate at African championships
- Updated: May 11, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South African triathletes dominated the ATU African Championships at a scorching Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt at the weekend.
The elite men and women saw complete domination of the top 10, with Henri Schoeman and Gillian Sanders running off with the individual titles for the 1500-metre swim, 40 kilometre cycle and 10km run.
SA men filled eight of the top 10 finishers (including the top five) and the women were first, second, third and fourth as well as taking sixth and eight spots. Racing was held under sweltering weather conditions with the thermometer hitting 36 deg Celsius for the men’s race.
Schoeman clocked 1hr 52min 17sec to rack up his third African title before heading off to Yokohama, Japan for the next leg of the WTS series.
Runner-up was Wian Sullwald in 1:54.28 and the Pretoria based athlete will be most encouraged after a few illness setbacks of late. Sullwald was also crowned Under-23 champion.
Basson Engelbrecht, Travis Johnston and Eddie van Heerden were third, fourth and fifth and the top 10 also included Wikus Weber (seventh), Clinton Gravett and Mark Greyling.
London based Sanders who has a frustrating Cape Town leg of the WTS when she punctured on the bike leg, clocked 2:06.34 to beat Mari Rabie, South Africa’s best finisher in Cape Town, by 1:50. Third in 2:09:50 was Anel Radford.
Other top 10 finishers were Vicky van der Merwe (fourth), Carly Fischer (sixth) and Jodie Berry (eighth). Berry sealed the Under-23 African title.
Sullwald told Road to Rio 2016 after the race. ‘I’m happy with my performance, as I said beforehand, just taking it step by step climbing theladdwe
‘We all worked well together on the bike quite hard, cycle course was basically going up and down a hill eight times and then on the run I ran quite easily for 5km then upped the tempo for a while and had a solid second, a much better day than I had in Cape Town two weeks ago.
‘It was very hot out there though and I’m sitting here with quite some sunburn.’
There was also South African triumph in the junior boys event as Nicholas Quenet won in 1:02:16 from fellow South African Wickus Saunders.
The rainbow nation also took first and second in the junior girls with Giselda Strauss winning in 1:03:58 from Maudelaine le Roux 1:04:43.
Last mentioned was part of Team South Africa at the African Youth Games in Botswana a year ago. Also part of that team was Simone Faulman who ended seventh on Saturday after a fall on the bike. South Africa’s Youth Olympic Games representative, Jayme Vermaas had bike problems and had to withdraw.
In the youth event victory went to South Africa’s Christiaan Stroebel and Kelly Fairon (women).
SA para-triathletes were also well represented with victories going to Anton Swanepoel (PT1), Stan Andrews (PT4) and David Jones (PT5).
Cape Town based Faulman took time off to tell Road to Rio 2016 about her Egyptian experience. ‘The swim went well, the best conditions I could have asked for. It was flat like swimming in a pool.
‘I came out the water fourth, feeling fresh between the first and second group. The cycle was a bit tough because it was up and down one long hill. I managed to stay with the second group. We were working nicely together and we were making time on the first group. On my second lap, as we turned I fell. I tried get up as quick as I could to get back up and catch those two, but unfortunately I just couldn’t. I was working as hard as I could but it wasn’t a match for the first group.
‘As I entered T2 I realised that my front brake had been rubbing against my front wheel the entire cycle. I was annoyed because instead of just taking an extra moment to think after my fall, I deprived myself of time.
‘The run on the other hand went much better, the best I’ve felt in a while. The heat in Egypt was just unbearable. Every water station I passed I used the entire water bottle. This included drinking a little and throwing the rest over me…
‘But all in all I had hoped for a much better result but accidents happen and there’s nothing you can do. I have learnt so much from this experience though, and will definitely take it back to the drawing board and work on it.’