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Murray misses out in Hamburg but shows hot form as Marie gets first top eight finish

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By Mark Etheridge

Forgot the fact that South Africa’s top triathlete Richard Murray was disqualified from the weekend’s World Triathlon Series event in Hamburg, Germany!
The country’s No1 three-phase athlete may have been out of the money (and it was a substantial amount of moola!) but in placing ‘second’ behind Spain’s Mario Mola he’s left no doubts about having recovered from the crippling collar-bone injury suffered in Australia earlier this year.
It was an encouraging day for South Africa’s four Rio Olympians in action.
Murray was in contention for the victory until a few steps from the finish line when he had to serve a 10-second time penalty for an earlier lapse. Henri Schoeman was 26th just over a minute off the winning time and the country’s two top women, Mari Rabie and Gillian Sanders, will be encouraged by their form, with Rabie grabbing eighth and while Sanders was a way back in 48th, she reckons she can still take a lot out going into the Olympics.
Back to the men’s race first though, and Mola won in 52min 19sec for the 750-metre swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run.
Mola and training partner Murray had a 17-sec lead over the field at the start of the second running lap and the winner was only going to be one of them.
Murray took time out to explain the highs and hurts of his day to Road to Rio 2016.
‘Well, it’s been a great five weeks training, from only being able to swing my left arm again to back into world-class racing, and I was only 17 seconds behind out the water which is not too bad. The bike went very well and I felt very strong. I’m happy with my form and I hope the next four weeks at altitude will help.
‘The run went well and I was feeling smooth and fast until Mario then told me after the first lap I had a penalty and I was thinking: “Is he playing with my mind?” I then kept a reasonable pace until we headed down the finish chute and I stopped for a penalty where my No22 was on the board.’
The problem came when Murray put his wetsuit into someone else’s box. ‘It was on the left of my bike instead of right as I usually mount from the right hand side so I put the wetsuit into another athlete’s box.
‘I got a 10-second penalty for it and was asking the official why I got a penalty… he stayed quiet and I started to get upset and asked him three more times why, but only to get no reply. I was furious and made some gestures that I now wish I hadn’t done. The ITU decided to disqualify me on grounds of unsportsmanlike nature, and take away the US$12000 prize money, points and exposure.
‘I totally agree with the fact that I did something wrong, but to take away the money I worked for and the opportunity for me to stand on the podium, I disagree with… the communication between athlete and official needs to be made, so us athletes know why we are standing on the side for a penalty. It will save some heartache next time.’
But ever positive, Murray has picked himself up again and move onwards… and upwards. ‘It’s off to Les Angles again for two weeks at altitude and then off to Banyoles at sea level before flying to RIo on 13 August.’
There was some consolation for Murray though, with girlfriend Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands ending second in the women’s race, her very first WTS podium.
As for Schoeman, he ended with a time of 53.35, 1:16 down on the winning time. Although yet to get back to Road to Rio 2016 on Monday, he said on social media: ‘Not my day in Hamburg yesterday. Struggled with some issues. Hoping to have it all sorted for the big one in a few weeks time.’

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On to the women and Rabie’s resurgence continues at pace. American Katie Zaferes won in 57.03 and Rabie, pictured in the left of the picture, was exactly a minute back in eighth.
‘My first WTS top eight and oh so close to top five,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. Indeed, she was just five seconds off a top five spot.
‘It was a good race, I’ve just been training away in the mountains, so didn’t expect too much from this race. I never thought about the end result, but just to implement what I have learnt the last couple of weeks.
‘There were a few moments of panic, being kicked in the face and teeth around the first turn buoy, slipping and falling flat on my backside in transition, etc! But I handled them well and managed nicely to develop a break ahead of the rest of the field.
‘All three codes are moving in the right direction and I’m sure coach Darren Smith will have me ready in five weeks time when we toe the line in Rio. It was good to have this hit-out in the middle of a training block and still perform OK,’ she concluded happily.
As for Sanders, who like Murray, was part of the SA team at the London Olympics four years. ago she had an up and down experience, well the other way around, to be honest.
She ended 48th in a time of 60:31 but isn’t allowing herself to feel down. ‘I had the swim from hell but felt super strong on the bike and run. Hamburg is a very tight swim course and I found myself in the wrong place and had a diabolical time in water…lost goggles etc.
‘Anyway, Rio will be totally different from that and I felt awesome biking and running so all good in the ‘hood and on track!’

Pictures courtesy of ITU


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