By Mark Etheridge
Despite finishing some way down the field, South Africa’s Commonwealth Games team silver medal-winning triathlete Gillian Sanders expressed satisfaction with her Rio reconnaissance in Brazil at the weekend.
She finished 42nd at the 2016 Olympic test event in 2:06:47 as American Gwen Jorgensen blitzed a 1:58.46 victory but she knows exactly where she lost time, and the long haul between England, where she is based, and Brazil was worth every minute of jet lag.
‘Rio was fantastic and the venue for the triathlon is awesome. As of my race, I had a decent swim and was in the chase pack. Unfortunately on the first lap and on the descent, which is very steep and technical I got caught behind some very nervous riders on their brakes and a gap formed, splitting the girls. Unfortunately I was caught near the back of that. I felt good on the run. It was nice and warm and humid but not too hectic and I managed to catch up a few places.
‘But the race was definitely important to check out the course. It’s gold dust learning for where you need to be when on that course and now I know exactly how to approach it which is invaluable. The big take-away for me was learning how to approach the bike course. I’m very glad I did the race and collected all my power data etc to prepare for next year.’
Like countryman and bronze medallist on the day, Richard Murray, she played down any concerns over the much-publicised water quality for the swim leg.
‘I think there’s a bit of scare-mongering and over reaction on the water quality. I swam in it from Wednesday to Sunday, swallowed a fair deal and am fine,’ she laughed. ‘In my opinion, some first world countries try to over sensationalise things a bit.’
Sanders said there were other things to worry about a year out. ‘Athletes will need to worry more about being mugged than the water… some Germans and Brits got mugged while here.’