Wian Sullwald (Tuks/HPC) had good reason to smile after finishing 24th in the World Series Triathlon event in Yokohama. He had managed to improve his Olympic qualification ranking by 22 positions and his ranking on the International Triathlon Union’s (ITU) points list by 13 positions. Sullwald, who is now ranked 53rd on ITU’s points list and 197th on the ITU Olympic qualification list for Rio, says: ‘Normally I would not get excited about a 24th place finish but, given the fact that I am still on the road to a full recovery, I am satisfied with the way my race played out. The important thing is that I managed to improve on my rankings. The positive I can take from my race is the fact that I proved to myself that I can keep my cool when things go slightly wrong and that I am again capable of racing tactically smart. I was certainly off to a bad start in the swim. During the first lap I got dunked a few times. This meant that I was stone last after the first lap, but I did not panic. Once I got into a rhythm I was able to make up a few positions, but I still had to work hard over the first few laps of the cycle leg to catch up with the leaders. Luckily I managed to do so. When I was part of the big bunch again I just focussed on hiding away among the other riders, not doing any real work, in an effort to save my energy. Going into the transition to the 10km run, I purposely held back so that I was one of last to start running. Like during the African Championships in Egypt, it was important to me to start the run at a comfortable pace, so I let my heart rate dictate my running pace for the first 5km. When I started the last part of the run still feeling strong, I accelerated. I was quite “chuffed” to finish the run in 31 minutes and 40 seconds. I am definitely still not at my best, but I am getting there. As I have said before, I am taking it one race at a time. As long as I continue to improve, even if it is just by a few seconds and one or two positions, I know that I am on track for a good race in the foreseeable future.’
Sullwald’s next race will be the World Series event at the end of May in London.