By Mark Etheridge
All Africa Games champion four years ago, Carlyn Fischer has got her triathlon season off to a winning start with victory at the Buffalo City African Cup sprint event in East London at the weekend.
Fischer won the elite women’s category with a time of 1hr 07min 24sec for the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5km run.
The victory will be a huge boost to the Pretoria based athlete ahead of the Triathlon World Series that gets underway in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
‘My training over the past few months has gone well,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. ‘Even so, it’s early in the season and three weeks post base training, so I’m not in my top racing condition yet.
‘I know the winner is only decided on the finish line, and for this race it was even more so being a sprint distance race with some of the new young ladies moving in.’
Runner-up was Cape Town based Vicky van der Merwe 36-seconds adrift and a third South African Jodie Berry just under a minute back.
Van der Merwe and Fischer were second and third out of the water behind Kerryn Grenfell but the two soon made up for that.
‘The course had lots of rolling hills, but was a hard and fast course after the head-on wind and currents in the sea had made it tough.
‘I had to do some catching up after starting the bike in second with third place on my heels. Within 3km or so we soon caught and dropped the leader and rode really strong together.
‘We rotated well and increased our lead. On the run I found my rhythm and took the lead, steadily increasing the gap.
‘It was only with about 300m to the finish that reality sunk in, that I was winning SA Champs. It took me four years to win the Senior Elite title again after winning it in 2011 when I was still U23. I went on to win the U/23 title after that, but was itching for the SA title. I’m thankful for every win, and this one was a good confidence boost before my international season starts.’
What next for the little brunette. ‘Well it’s difficult to plan races, as you only get notified of being on the start list one month prior to the event. Funding is also a big issue. World Cups and World Series are the events where one accumulates Olympic ranking points and being entirely self-funded makes this a tough road. After Abu Dhabi I’m heading to Australia and planning on doing two World Cups in Sunshine Coast and New Plymouth. Africa Champs in Egypt in May is a big one for me and after that I’ll see what’s next.
‘For now my racing season has started on a high and I’m very excited for the season ahead.’
Best South African men’s finisher was Basson Engelbrecht in third (58.54), behind Turkey’s Jonas Schomberg (58:30) and Luxembourg’s Bob Haller (58:44).