Richard Murray’s victory at the Triathlon World Series event in Edmonton, Canada on Sunday and Wian Sullwald’s sixth place finish at the same event proved that South African triathletes are able to hold their own against the world’s best. Despite tough and chilly conditions Murray put together a remarkable score to secure his second ever victory in a World Triathlon Series. Sullwald’s sixth place finish was a career best in the Series and showed what he is capable of when he is in good health and free of injuries.
Murray won the 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run in 53 minutes and 19 seconds. Spain’s four-time world champion, Javier Gomez, was second in 53.23 and Mario Molu (also from Spain) was third in 53.34. Vincent Luis (France) finished 4th in 53.39, with Australia’s Aaron Royle fifth in 53.40 and Sullwald 6th in 53.43. The first six athletes were separated by merely 24 seconds.
In an interview on the International Triathlon website Murray said: ‘Javi (Javier Gomez) was hanging on the whole time and I really had to give it everything. I had some issues at the start of the day. I broke my swim cap. I had to give it everything in the end. My swim was much better than last year, and I managed to push hard on the bike.’ Understandably Sullwald (Tuks/HPC) battled to express his feelings: ‘It has been a terribly hard season for me. Because of health issues I kept being “knocked down” time and again. No matter how hard I trained and what I did to try and stay healthy, nothing seemed to work. To be able, at long last, to finish sixth in a World Series race is just amazing. It was certainly one of my best performances to date. It proved to me that it is possible to turn things around if you continue to put in the long hard hours and not allow yourself to become despondent.’
The Tuks/HPC triathlete admits that the weather conditions made him slightly worried before the start of the race: ‘I think the maximum temperature was something like 10 degrees and, to make matters even worse, it rained as well. The only way I was able to keep myself motivated was to promise myself that I would finish quickly so that I would not have to be exposed to the cold and pain for much longer than 50 minutes. My swim was a nightmare and it was not only because of the freezing water. Because I arrived in Edmonton with a slight cold, I battled to breathe properly. To make matters worse there was a lot of ‘fighting’ in the water, which resulted in a slight panic attack that prevented me from staying in contact with the race leaders. When I got onto my bike I was feeling terrible. It felt as if someone was choking me, but luckily I managed to calm down. The group I was riding with caught up with the leaders after three laps. From then on it was just a matter of staying focussed and not making any silly mistakes. The cold weather made it difficult to brake and change gears. In the changeover from the bike to the run I took things slightly easier to give myself time to regain my composure. I knew that Richard would go out hard on the run so I just made sure that I stayed with him for as long as I could. In the end I had to slow down slightly because Richard had no intentions of letting anybody catch up or pass him.’
Photo credit: 2015 Rich Cruse ITU