Winning the South African under-23 triathlon title at the African Championships in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, was exactly the confidence booster Wian Sullwald (Tuks/HPC) needed before this weekend’s World Series event in Yokohama. Sullwald says: ‘I promised myself that I will take it one step at a time in my quest for that one perfect race performance this season and that is why I am more than satisfied with the way things played out on Sunday. I guess I could have pushed myself a little bit harder during the running leg but I purposely decided not to do so because I realised that I had no chance of catching Henri (Schoeman). He was simply a class act on the day and fully deserved his overall win.’ Schoeman won the 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run in 1 hour 52 minutes and 17 seconds.
Sullwald, a Tuks/HPC athlete, finished second overall (1:54:17), which meant that he won the SA under-23 title for a second consecutive year. Basson Engelbrecht was third in 1:55:51. Sullwald’s support team at the High Performance Centre (HPC) is impressed by his performance.
Sullwald recently suffered from tick bite fever which impacted quite badly on his immune system, and he could only start doing some serious training during the past few weeks. He was not expected to be competitive at this stage of his comeback. According to Sullwald, he tried at first to keep up with Schoeman during the swim on Sunday.
He says: ‘I managed to draft in his slipstream for the first 400 metres or so, but Henri was just too strong and eventually powered away from me. This left me to fend for myself until the end. Basson Engelbrecht and Eddie van Heerden joined me during the cycle leg. The cycle course was quite tough. It consisted of eight laps and during each lap we were challenged by a quite nasty energy sapping little climb. This, together with the humid conditions, made it impossible for me to catch Henri, so the three of us just rode together at a steady pace until the end. I opted to run the first 5 kilometres at a nice consistent pace. It was only during the last few kilometres that I started to up my pace, which enabled me to move into second place. Throughout the race I kept reminding myself that I need to save some energy for the World Series event on Sunday. My main challenge in Yokohama will be not to be too hard on myself. I have to realise that I am not yet fit enough to challenge the world’s best triathletes head on. Competing in Yokohama will be the second step on my road to full recovery and it will also be an excellent opportunity for me to gain some more international racing experience.’