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Juniors ‘Hungary’ for success

The ÔÇ£experimentÔÇØ by Triathlon South Africa to send a squad of our junior athletes to compete and train in Europe for a period of 10 days was ÔÇô according to High Performance Manager Lindsey Parry ÔÇô a resounding success. ÔÇ£All the athletes performed beyond my expectations and really gave a good account of themselves.ÔÇØ

On Tuesday 28 July, Carlyn Fisher, Lauren Dance, Rudolf Naude, Henri Schoeman, Corne van der Ryst, Wian Sullwald and Daniel Claasen, left for Budapest, Hungary, before moving on to Egirdir to compete in the ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup first in Egirdir on 2 August and then Tiszaujvaros on the 8th for the next ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup.

Carlyn Fisher, arguably one of the most talented juniors in the country, suffered some bad luck in the first race and had to return home with a broken collar bone. The rest of the group though could not have asked for a better trip. A win in the women’s race in Egirdir by Lauren Dance and a runners-up spot by Henri Schoeman certainly showed that the South African contingent has class.

The rest of the week was spent with hard training before the next race, the ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup in Tiszauvaros. Again it was Lauren Dance who had the best performance, although it needs to be stressed that the boy’s race had a much higher quality field than the previous week.

The race in Tiszauvaros was a bit unusual for the South Africans, following a different format to allow larger numbers in a small dame. It was a new experience for the team, but exciting for the spectators. The race started with a 2.5km run, then a 10km bike, 750m swim, 10km bike and finished with a 2.5km run.

Bad luck struck the South Africans with Henri Schoeman picking up shin splints and Rudolf Naude and Corney Van Der Ryst picking up a stomach bug.

The 2.5km run was done at a furious pace, with Daniel and Wian Sullwald coming into the first transition, in the lead pack at 7:07, Corney Van Der Ryst was not far behind and biked into the lead pack. Rudolf Naude struggled with stomach cramps on the run, but once on the bike felt better. Henri Schoeman struggled from the get-go with his shins.

Off the bike, into the swim the athletes struggled to make the adjustment and lost time on the lead group. Rudolf Naude had a great swim, catching and passing the group of SA juniors who were swimming together. Henri Schoeman again had the fastest swim split, but was too far back to make an impact.

There were two big packs on the bike, a lead pack of 8-10 and the chase pack of around 20-30. Rudolf Naude , Daniel Claasan, Wian Sullwald and Corney Van Der Ryst were all comfortably in the chase pack.

The second run was a tough affair with Claasen handling the conditions best, with a brilliant 7:08 to come home in 12th place, Sullwald was a close 14th, Van Der Ryst on his heals for 15th and Naude fading a bit to come home in 21st.

Henri Schoeman was pulled from the race to prevent further damage to his shins. According to High Performance Manager, Lindsey Parry, Schoeman is a big talent and needs to be looked after for net year.

Lauren Dance gets performance of the tour for this race. She went toe to toe with some top junior girls and came into the transition in fourth place on the run. The lead pack of 15 girls then cycled together with Dance diving into the water in sixth place. She struggled with the format and sunk back in the swim to 15th place. There was a lead pack of 6 girls that would decide the race and Lauren hung onto the chase pack of nine girls. Lack of experience placed her last in the pack coming into the transition and she had to fight hard to move up the field. A strong run saw her move up to eighth overall, two minutes behind the winner.

According to Parry the 10 days spent in Hungary were a huge success. ÔÇ£The juniors had a hard week of training and raced very well this week and last. Last week was a soft field, but this week there were some good athletes and we competed well. The tour has been a great success (with the exception of Carlyn Fischer breaking her collarbone). As the junior high performance manager I can say that all the athletes exceeded my expectations and they have a bright future ahead of them.ÔÇØ