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Kate celebrates great year

By Mark Etheridge

Kate Roberts, our top women’s triathlete, is back home after a hugely successful year of competition.

But although she’d like to put her feet up immediately there’s not much chance of that happeningÔǪ┬á at least not until after this weekend.

Reason being that her twin sister is getting married and Roberts is bridesmaid so instead of multi-tasking on the sports circuit she’ll be running around making last minute arrangements on a lot more than three fronts.

Looking back on her year though and 27-year-old Roberts can feel feel well-pleased with her efforts.

Her season started on 17 December 2009 when she left for Canberra, Australia. ÔÇ£I trained there with my coach Dr Darren Smith,ÔÇØ said Roberts this week. ÔÇ£He’s a hard-core Aussie who runs a system where he trains a group of around 12 athletes.

“Among my partners are Lisa Norden from Sweden, Vendula Frintova from Czech Republic, Barbara Riveros from Chile, Vicky Holland from Great Britain, Sarah Groff from the USA and Lauren Campbell from Canada and a few guys ÔÇö Andreas Giglmayr from Austria, Bryan Keane from Ireland, and Dave Matthews and Michael Gosman (both┬áfrom Australia).

Her international season effectively ended at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary earlier this month and marked a punishing schedule that saw her competing in 15 tough races.

Five of them were in Australia, two in South Africa and then she hit Europe for another eight challenges on the incredibly competitive triathlon circuit. While on the European circuit she was based in Davos. ÔÇ£That’s in the German part of Switzerland, up in the Alps and about 1500-metres above sea level.ÔÇØ

Back in her home-town of Bloemfontein now for the rest of the year, Roberts can boast four victories during her season, one each in Australia and France and two in South Africa.

Her international victories came when she won the Caloundra Enduro Format race in Australia and the Beauvais French National Grand Prix in France. On home soil she won the ATU African Triathlon Championships, in Durban and then the ATU African Duathlon Championships in Bloemfontein.

Consistency has been a key part of Roberts’ success, with four top 10 finishes in the Dextro Energy ITU World Championships Series. The highlight of her year came in Germany on 18 July. ÔÇ£That was in Hamburg where I took fourth spot. This was my best result and I just narrowly missed out on a podium finish.ÔÇØ

There was also frustration, injury and tumbles.

Frustration in the fact she was slapped with a 15-second time penalty at ITU sprint world championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. ÔÇ£I was lying eighth but because of that penalty, for not throwing my helmet in my designated box I ended 11th.ÔÇØ

Injury came at the season’s most important race, the World Championships final in Budapest.┬á ÔÇ£I picked up a hip injury in the lead up to┬áthe final race┬áand it was a stressful period for me as I was not able to run for two weeks before the race so I was just pleased that I still had a solid finishing position.ÔÇØ Again she finished 11th.

Tumbles were the order of the day at the Bardolino Triathlon in Italy. ÔÇ£I was involved in a crash during the bike leg so was really happy to still have finished second.ÔÇØ

She may be home now but her competitive year is still not done. Says Roberts, who trains for roughly 25 hours a week: ÔÇ£I’m taking a few weeks off now because both mentally and physically I need a break. It’s been a very intense year and one where I gave triathlon everything. I’ll get back into training and then race the final five races of the BSG Energade series.ÔÇØ

And further down the road? ÔÇ£Well although I ended the year being ranked as the seventh best female triathlete in the world, I was thrilled with my year and my consistent racing.ÔÇØ But already she’s got bigger plans to come.

ÔÇ£I’m looking forward to 2011 and I hope to make South Africa proud by aiming for a podium position in a World Championships Series race and still further in the future I’m working hard to get onto that podium at the 2012 Olympics in London.ÔÇØ

Indeed the Olympics has provided the happiest moment of her career. ÔÇ£Definitely my most memorable moment in triathlon was fulfilling my childhood dream and competing for South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.ÔÇØ