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SA need Engelbrecht as they chase Rio 2016 slots
- Updated: April 23, 2016
Basson Engelbrecht may not feature at the top-end of the elite men’s race in Sunday’s Discovery World Series pro-elite men’s triathlon in Cape Town… but his run could impact South Africa’s chances at the Rio Olympics later this year.
His result might indirectly impact on whether the country will be able to send three athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio.
As thing stand at the moment Richard Murray and Henri Schoeman have done enough to basically secure their Rio spots.
Now, if Wian Sullwald can improve his ranking by probably around 10 places he also stands a chance of qualifying. However in sport nothing is ever really guaranteed. The unfortunate reality is that accidents do happen.
Murray’s crash during the World Series race at Australia’s Gold Coast proves it. The world’s third best triathlete broke his collar bone and also damaged his hand. He will in all probability recover in time to be at his best in Rio but Lindsey Parry, head coach at Tuks/HPC sees the mishap as a timely warning that nothing can be taken for granted. That is why he wants Engelbrecht to get as many ranking points possible from now to the end of May.
So that, heaven forbid, should one of South Africa’s top three triathletes experience a mishap he might be in contention to be selected for the Games.
The 21-year-old Engelbrecht, a former South African champion, is up to the challenge.
‘The fact that it is a sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) means Sunday’s racing is going to be tough.
‘I don’t want to speculate to much about how my race might play out as I have had some bad luck at the African/South African Championships in East London and the past weekend in Chengdu World Cup in China so I think I will race first and speak afterwards,’ said the Tuks/HPC athlete.
Engelbrecht is a firm believer that you can take something positive from a bad race experience.
‘My goal in Chengdu was to be Wian (Sullwald)’s domestique so as to help him to get maximum ranking points. Unfortunately things did not work out as we have planned
‘I had a bad experience during the swim which led to me losing about 75 seconds on the race leaders. The easy option would have been to call it a day, but that is not how I am.
‘So I got on my bike and time trialled like never before. After 32 kilometres I caught up with Wian and the rest. I asked Wian what he wanted me to do over the last eight kilometres and then set out to do it at the best of my abilities.
‘Unfortunately the big chase to catch up and doing some hard riding over the last few kilometres meant that I was a spend force by the time we had to start the run.
‘So I quit so as to rather safe myself for Sunday’s race.
“I am not disappointed about what happened in China. Actually I am quite satisfied. The fact that I was able to overcome a setback and ride myself back into contention gives me a lot of confidence as I now know that no mishap is insurmountable.
‘In any race it will always boil down to how much you really want to succeed,’ said the Tuks/HPC triathlete.
Meanwhile in the women’s race, London Olympian Gillian Sanders is raring to go after a disappointing DNF (Did Not Finish) at the most recent WTS event, in Gold Coast, Australia. A bug picked up in Midmar Dam in KZN, saw her suffering with an ear infection.
But a hugely encouraging track and swim session back home in London saw her coach giving her the green light to race in Cape Town.
‘I had a great session of 1600, 1400, 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200m… all at race pace and was holding 3:10 per kilometre pace,’ she told Road to Rio 2016.
‘Then I also had a good swimming session. I had to just hang on to one of the guys which I did, so here I am.’
On approaching the sprint distance, which leaves no room for error?
‘There’s not too much difference, although maybe on the bike leg, but otherwise it’s pretty much flat out.
‘But I’m all set to go and excited to race in front of a home crowd.. always so special.’
Picture of Basson courtesy of Reg Caldecott