LEEDS – Two-time Olympian Richard Murray said he was "super, super happy" as he raced to his most prestigious victory yet at the weekend, winning his first Olympic distance triathlon in Leeds, England.
Murray has now become the first-ever South African triathlete to win an Olympic distance World Triathlon Series (WTS) event.
Putting aside recent problems with a painful back injury, he roared in to the win in the WTS event known as the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds.
An ecstatic Murray told Team SA as he headed back to his training base in the Netherlands: ‘"I can’t really say I expected it to come now, but I’m super, super happy with my first WTS Olympic distance race.
‘It’s been 10 years in the making – always wanting to win a WTS Olympic distance event. In fact, it’s been my biggest goal since I was 18. I’ve won two sprints now and this feels magical.
"At last, all the hard work and training has paid off, especially after a very hard last few months."
Murray switched coaching staff earlier this year and is now working closely with the Dutch national coaching set-up.
"We changed things around the last few weeks as things weren’t going great.”
On the race itself though, things didn’t start off great either. "My swim wasn’t great, pretty shoddy, but I tried my best to stay in contention and was 50 seconds back into T1.
"But on the bike, I pulled back and ended up with the second fastest bike split behind Kristian Blummenfelt [Norway]. He kept biking very hard, and I just kept “quiet” and sat in a good spot," said Murray. "On the run, the legs felt really great. The last time I was in London, I came second behind Mario at the WTS and now I have beaten him for the first time in an Olympic distance and I couldn’t be happier."
He used his running prowess to brilliant effect as he put the hammer down at the start of the 10km run and no one was able to stay with him.
He clocked a combined time (with the 1 500m swim and 40km cycle) of one hour 45 minutes 52 seconds.
Occasional training partner Mario Mola of Spain was second in 1:46:01 and France’s Vincent Luis was 13 seconds further behind.
Murray’s compatriot and Commonwealth gold medallist Henri Schoeman was unable to deliver his best on the day, not even leading out of the water, and was 15th in 1:47:58.
A third South African, former world junior champion Wian Sullwald failed to finish.
The only South African woman in the Leeds line-up was London-based Gillian Sanders and she had the misfortune of crashing on the bike leg once again and not being able to finish.
African News Agency (ANA)