By Mark Etheridge
Almost certain to qualify for the London Olympics, triathlete Richard Murray ended fourth in a sprint triathlon in Dunkirk, France at the weekend.
It was all part of his fine tuning for the Games as he currently heads the Olympic qualification rankings, with the cut-off date set for the end of May.
Murray clocked 54min 50sec for the helper-skelter event, just 22sec down on winner Steffen Justus of Germany.
“It was an amazing first French GP experience for me,” Murray told Road to London 2012 this week. “Our team (Mulhouse Olympic Triathlon) came seventh in the team category and I managed to pull out a fourth.
“That was after a reasonable swim, which was very hard, due to the first buoy being only 220 metres from the start pontoon ÔÇô it was a smackfest!
“Then the bike was over-the-top hard and I think we averaged in the region of 42km/h.”
After Transition Two, Murray was in the second pack, around 40sec down on the lead pack of around 18 men.
Heading into the final 5km run, Murray’s natural running talent kicked in. “I went out like a man on fire and was soon catching the front guys. With around 1km to go I got into fourth sport but needed to work my backside off to hold them at bay ÔÇô guys like William Clarke, Kris Gemmel and Christian Prochnow were right behind me. It was a great start to my French GP experience.”
Murray clocked 15:14 for the run, only Spain’s Mario Mola going quicker but ending behind Murray in the overall placings. An indication of the form Murray finds himself in right now is that top-notch British triathlete Alistair Brownlee (a two-time world champion) ran 15:35 on the same course last year.
Next up for Murray will be a team relay on 16 June in Toulouse, France. He’s opting to skip this week’s ITU event in Madrid, Spain, safe in the knowledge that he’s done enough to seal his Olympics spot after ending second in San Diego earlier this month.
The Toulouse event is even more hectic than Dunkirk. A team event, it features a 400m swim, 7km bike and 1500m run.