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Wolfaardt and Co hunt gold

Nine South Africans will be in action at the final of the ITU World Championships Triathlon Series, a new innovation this year at Australia’s Gold Coast this weekend.

The team left last weekend and were chosen on the basis of either their performances at the national championships in March and the African Championships in Durban and the ITU (International Triathlon Union) also allocates place for athletes who have competed in their World Series on the points they picked up during that time.

So Erhard Wolfaardt as national and African champion has been selected despite not competing on the World Circuit. Claude Eksteen and Hendrik De Villiers get to go after bagging points on the ITU Circuit as does Vicky Van Der Merwe and Anel Stewart.

Stewart and Van Der Merwe have been preparing in Australia, whilst Eksteen has based himself firstly in Australia, then in Davos from where he competed in a number of races in Europe, including the German Bundesliga.

De Villiers has been struggling to get back to the lofty heights of 2008 where he finished third at the Richards Bay World Cup, first in the Africa Championships and fourth at the World Championships, before a medical condition first prevented him from competing in the Olympics and then saw him drop from 10th to 12th in the year end ITU rankings.

Eksteen will be hoping that he is over the bout of flu that caused him to drop from a top 10 position to 18 at the recent ITU World Championship Series Race in Yokohama, but he believes his training and racing of late has seen him get into shape at the right time and is hoping for a top 10 finish at the Grand Finale.

Stewart, who is based in Australia, has a best performance of third at the Singapore ITU Premium Cup at the beginning of August, whilst Van Der Merwe’s best performance of a sixth place finish came in the Subic Bay ITU Triathlon Asian Cup.

As South African and African U23 Champion Wikus Weber was also selected to represent South Africa with Wian Sullwald and Rudolph Naude (both Juniors) making up the balance of the team.

Carlyn Fischer had also been included in the team, but a broken collar-bone picked up whilst racing in Hungary, put paid to her chances.

Instead it is Lauren Dance who will be competing in the Junior Women Category after her win at the 2009 Egirdir ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup in Hungary in August. Both Dance and Weber were already in Australia, attending an ITU World Junior and Under-23 Camp.

Lindsey Parry and Richard Woolrich will act as team managers.

Weber and Van Der Merwe will be in action on Friday, Eksteen, Wolfaardt and De Villiers race on Saturday, with Sullwald, Dance, Naude and Stewart having their day on Sunday.