Roberts races back | TeamSA - TeamSA

Roberts races back

By Mark Etheridge

Top South African triathlete Kate Roberts ended 23rd in the latest leg of the the Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

And while at first impression it may not seem that impressive, taken in the context of her recent health and injury struggles, it would certainly appear that the Bloemfontein athlete has turned the corner.

Especially when one compares her latest showing to her previous competition in Madrid a few weeks back where she faded to 37th spot. On that occasion she crossed the line eight minutes behind winner and current flavour of the month, Paula Findlay of Canada. In Kitzbuhel Roberts was less than three minutes behind Findlay.

Findlay clocked a combined time of 2hr 05min 52sec for the 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike ride and 10km run. Roberts, who celebrated her 28th birthday the day after the event, clocked 2:08:15 to end 2:22 adrift. She was also within 1:45 of the third-placed Sarah Groff of the US.

Her times for the three disciplines were 19:31 for the swim, 1:10:24 for the bike and 36:56 for the run. As comparison Findlay had times of 19:25, 1:10:06 and 34:54.

Roberts’ Australian based coach, Darren Smith was in positive frame of mind when Road to London 2012 contacted him.”We’re definitely back on track and moving in the forward direction again, so it was nice to see a bit of the old Katie back again…

“She got smashed by another girl in the early part of the swim which was really very unfortunate, because lets face it, neither of them swim fast in that case, then it is catch up for the rest of the race. Being lower ranked now means she starts with and in amongst much less competent athletes, but of course that is direct consequence of not racing and preparing faultlessly, and is a part of life for her right now.

“Just a few seconds too slow in the swim meant she missed the first pack on the bike, so it ends up being a cascade… her run was not bad at all considering.”

And Roberts’ reflection on her race? “Kitzbuhel was better and we are slowly making our way to the top of Mount┬áEverest,” she told Road to London 2012. “It’s been a tough start to the season but what can you do..? I can just keep giving ┬áof my best each day and I am sure that things will start looking up really soon. I was disappointed in my swimÔǪ although I was not really swimming in the race ÔÇô fighting for my life in a scrum would be more accurate! At one point in the swim after I was dunked about three times, I was┬ágenuinely┬áscared for my life.

“Unfortunately I found myself in the chase pack and just had to do the best I could, given the situation and ┬áI can honestly say that, I did my best. It is always tough when you are in the chase pack though because your┬ámentality┬áis┬ácompletely┬ádifferent. I’m getting back to where I was last year and feeling a lot stronger and more positive. I believe it is a┬áconfidence┬áthing this racing. If if I can just get a solid result in, where I make the front pack in the swim, hang in there on the bike and then give it all I have and have a solid run, then I will get back to where I was last year.”

After her latest race Roberts has moved up to 42nd in the ITU World Championships Series rankings and it can only be one way, and that’s higher, for her. She ended 2010 as the world’s 12th ranked women’s triathlete.

Smith is also realistic when he looks ahead for the rest of the season and to this end says that Roberts won’t be returning for African Championships in Maputo, Mozambique early next month. “We’re putting African champs back in the schedule (again because of the poor early part of the season, and need for points), and while there are good points on offer, it is not the ideal ‘long weekend’ trip right in the middle of the next four-week prep for Hamburg WCS.”

Ending on a positive note, Smith concluded: “We’ll get her back to somewhere near top 10-12 shape I would say by the end of the season, but the big time places will have to wait until next year.”

No-one needs any reminding that next year is the big one, the Olympic Games in London. Last word belongs to Roberts: “I’m making sure that I hone my fighting skills for the next World Champs┬áSeries┬árace in Hamburg on 17 July as that is the most brutal swim in the SeriesÔǪ Free State girls are meant to be okay in those┬ásituations thoughÔǪ so a fighter I will be!”