By Mark Etheridge
Olympians Kate Roberts and Gill Sanders get Team South Africa’s Commonwealth Games medal campaign up and running today with the individual triathlon events at Strathclyde Park.
Roberts is a two-time Olympian while London based Sanders made her Games debut on home turf two years ago.
Said coach Lindsey Parry: ‘Our two girls have been a little bit up and down and not all that consistent.
‘Kate had that foot injury which kept her out of running for some time recently but the good thing is that she was able to concentrate on her swimming and biking and right now her swimming is really nice.’
Parry reckons that should there be a small breakaway it would suit Roberts, who like Sanders, has a good run leg up her sleeve.
‘I think both of them should be slotting in at around positions 5-8… but on a good day we are still looking at a possible podium finish.’
Looking at the winners, Parry favoured England’s Jody Stimpson, the Aussie duo of Emma Jackson and Emma Moffatt as well as Canadian Kirsten Sweetland.
Expect the winning time in the women’s duel, like the men’s over a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run, to be between two hours and 2:06.
As for the course, it’s a route that will reward hard work and focus… unlike many of the world courses this course will find out any weaknesses, especially in the cycle where the five laps of 8km each feature many short, sharp climbs of between 100-200m as well as a longer, although slightly less challenging climb.
The run (three laps of 3.33km) starts off with around 1.5km of flat and then has a nasty 300m climb.
Which brings us to the men’s race and our Richard Murray, who runs, well, like a Springbok. His weak points are in the wet and he knows as well as anyone that he simply cannot afford to lose too much time in the loch.
‘Richard is probably not going to be in that lead group out of the water, but if the bunch he is in catches them on the bike then he becomes a huge factor,’ says Parry.
‘If the gap is too big, then we look at Henri [Schoeman] who usually has an excellent swim.’ And so he should, being a brother of Olympian Riaan Schoeman.
The maximum that Murray can afford to let the lead pack have on him before he starts the final leg will be a minute and maybe some change. If he can limit the gap to that sort of time, a podium place beckons.
The two Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee said earlier this week that it would be strange racing an elite event without the Europeans… Indeed, but watch the Africans!
The final member of the SA tri-trio is young Wian Sullwald, a former world junior champion and a man who made his World Triathlon Series debut this year and since gone on to win a World Cup event.
This is his first year mixing it with the big guns. There is little pressure on him to produce a blinder on Thursday… watch him in 2016 and 2020. But no pressure equals more energy to focus on being fast.
Here’s hoping that in one of the two races, or why not both, triathlon turns into triumphant for Team South Africa.