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Schoeman and Rabie are SA’s best in Cape Town
- Updated: April 24, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Henri Schoeman and Mari Rabie were South Africa’s star performers, racking up more Olympic rankings points at Sunday’s Discovery World triathlon sprint event at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
Schoeman ended sixth in a no-holds barred shoot-out over 750 metres of swimming, bike ride of 20 kilometres and then a 5km dash to the finish.
And Rabie was 17th in a frenetic race that got the elite part of the weekend up and running.
Normally in the first three out of the water, Schoeman was fifth on to terra firma and then a bad T1 (first transition) saw him miss the lead bike pack. But he clawed his way back and then it was all down to the run and he looked on target for fourth but was overtaken by Frenchman Pierre le Corre and a flying Mario Mola in the final stages.
The race was won by Spaniard Fernando Alarzo who was at the leading edge of the pack throughout the race. He clocked 54min 12 sec to beat 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee of Britain into silver (54:17) and France’s Dorian Coninx into third (54:23). It was the Frenchman’s first ever podium.
Sunday’s result means that Spain are yet to be beaten after three World Triathlon Series races this season. Winner of the first two legs, Mola, left himself too much to do in the run and despite a lighting quick 14:24 for the run just missed the podium by 10sec.
Schoeman had mixed thoughts of his race with a 54:40 clocking. ‘It’s good to finally be “back” in the mix,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. ‘My swim wasn’t the best today but the run is coming right.
‘I couldn’t get my usual gap on the guys in the swim because it was just a bit short today.’
The Durban-based three-code ace has been battling with a knee injury ‘but there were not problems today thank goodness.
‘My problem was missing the main pack. In the first transition my wetsuit just wouldn’t unzip and then I panicked a bit and battled to get my helmet on.
‘Now we go into a short Triathlon South Africa training camp in Stellenbosch tomorrow.’
As for Rabie, who is making rapid progress up the rankings list after missing a huge chunk of 2014 with heart-related problems, it says chunks for her high expectations that she wasn’t all that happy with her finish in 17th spot (1:00:53) as Britain’s Non Stanford became the third British woman to win the Cape Town leg of the series in 59:49.
‘Of course I’d want much better but that’s just a measure of my progress in the last period. Last year I was 25th in this race (although it was an Olympic distance event) so it’s getting there.
‘My swim was good but it wasn’t great in that big bike pack as Flora Duffy got away on her own. The technical bits were a bit tricky with so may people in the mix.’
There was some sort of podium finish for South African with Bermuda’s Duffy spending much of her training time in Stellenbosch as girlfriend of former SA endurance athlete Dan Hugo.
Next up for Rabie who also goes into the training camp in her home town of Stellenbosch, is a World Cup event in Mexico on 8 May and then Yokohama, Japan on14 May as she continues to chase Olympic ranking points.
Back to the elite men and second South African was Wian Sullwald whose last competion was a World Cup in China where he placed 12th.
On Sunday he was 30th in 55:46 He’s been battling with a knee injury which hampers him on the running leg. ’Today the knee was fine but I picked up a bit of a stomach bug coming back from China so was just a bit flat today.
‘I new 100m into the swim that it wasn’t going to be my day. But I kept on fighting on the bike and was just off that lead pack. My transitions also weren’t as good as they could be.’
The third South African in action, Basson Engelbrecht, was 44th in 57:53.
As for the other SA women, Gillian Sanders still seems to be battling from an ear infection she picked up in Midmar Dam after African Championships.
She ended up 39th in 1:05:12. ‘I lost my goggles 50m into the swim and although I’ve swum without goggles before, things deteriorated from there.
‘I just couldn’t hang on in the bike and then in the run the Irish girl hooked up with me and we just turned it into a hard training run.
‘Now it’s back to London and to re-focus.’
Anel Radford, based in Sydney, went into the race, still battling with a rib injury suffered earlier in the season. She came out to race African Championships in East London but was not sufficiently recovered to compete.
On this occasion she got through swim and bike but failed to finish the run leg.
The world’s elite now move on to Yokohama for the next leg of the series (an Olympic distance event).
One thing’s seems certain, and that is that there’ll be a much bigger crowd turn-out there than the disappointing figures seen at the Green Point Athletics stadium on a perfect Mother City autumn day when the world’s best came out to play!
Picture of the swim leg courtesy of Greg Beadle