Wian Sullwald had a good start to his season when on Saturday he won the African Cup Triathlon event in Troutbeck, Zimbabwe. The Commonwealth athlete has been side-lined since the middle of last year by a variety of setbacks which included tick bite fever and knee and hip injuries. He can, therefore, be forgiven for using the word ‘chuffed’ after his victory.
Sullwald won the 1.5 kilometre swim, 40 kilometre cycle and 10 kilometre run in 2 hours 3 minutes and 29 seconds. Bob Haller (Luxembourg) was second in 2:03:36 with another Luxembourger, Neil Peters, finishing third in 2:06:00. Eduardo Lass (Brazil) was fourth in 2:06:46 and Wikus Weber fifth in 2:07:13. He said: ‘These past few months have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for me. It felt good to be out there and I am very glad that I am able to race again.’ According to Sullwald the Troutbeck course made for tough racing.
The High Performance Centre athlete said: ‘We raced at about 2 000 m above sea level. Both the bike and running courses were quite hilly and, to make matters even more challenging, there was also a strong wind. But I was not going to allow the racing conditions to get to me. I was focussed on doing the small things correctly and getting back into a racing mode.’ Sullwald had the fastest time in the swimming (18:55). He took an early lead on the bike but after leading for one lap he sat up and waited for the chasing group to catch up with him.
He says: ‘I realized that to ride alone out in front in such windy conditions would be foolish because I would waste a lot of energy. So on lap two I purposely slowed down and waited for the bunch. Towards the end of the cycling leg I accelerated in an effort to drop off some riders. Right from the beginning of the run I settled into a nice steady pace.’ Sullwald’s time for the 10 km run was 34:07. His next race will be the World Series event at Australia’s Gold Coast (11-12 April).
Sullwald is full of praise for the support he received from the HPC team of experts on his road to recovery: ‘When I was really down in the dumps, Toby Sutcliffe (CEO) told me to trust them and relax. He assured me that they were 100% behind me and would support me all the way to ensure that I make a complete recovery. That is exactly what the HPC did.”