It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. Wian Sullwald, a Commonwealth triathlete, can certainly relate to this quote by the legendary American Football coach, Vince Lombardi. To use his own words, in spite of having hit rock bottom he is totally motivated to get back to his best form as a triathlete.
In fact, he has enough confidence to go on record saying that he hopes to win the under-23 title at the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago (15-19 September). Sullwald’s goal is definitely not unrealistic. At last year’s World Championships in Edmonton he finished 9th in the under-23 race.
It should be kept in mind that Sullwald is a former junior world champion who has already proven that he has the big-match temperament to fulfil his ambitions. But it frustrates him that his lack of good results so far this season was not due to his own doing. Sullwald does not normally swear, but he finds it difficult to talk about ticks without using some three or four letter words to describe them.
This is because his problems began earlier this season when he was diagnosed with biliary (tick bite fever). He says: ‘It really messed up my immune system. Every time, just when I thought I had recovered and could start racing again, I became ill again. At one stage it got so bad that I began to doubt my own abilities. Absolutely nothing went according to plan. My biggest personal disappointment was my performance at the World Series event in Cape Town. The two things that changed everything around for me was, firstly, the support I received from the team at the High Performance Centre (HPC) who is one of my major sponsors. No matter how bad things were Toby Sutcliffe (CEO at the HPC) maintained that he still believed in me. So did my coach, Lindsey Parry, my parents and my other sponsors. I don’t really have the words to describe what their constant support means to me. The other real turning point came when I realised that before I could become a true champion I had to learn to deal with setbacks. You have to lose before you can win. Feeling sorry for oneself when having a setback is just not on.’
According to Sullwald his training in August has, for the first time in months, gone as planned. He has been clocking fast times on the track and is getting back in the groove in the swimming pool as well. This weekend Sullwald will be competing in the World Series event in Edmonton.
In spite of the fact that it will be the first time in quite a few weeks that he will be racing Sullwald is confident that he will get a good result. He says: ‘If I can start the run with the leaders there is no reason why I cannot get a top-10 finish.’