Henri Schoeman in action during the mixed team relay triathlon. Photo: EPA/EFE
A storm was brewing as the élite men lined up at the start of the triathlon at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Instead of getting consumed by panic, Henri Schoeman relied on the experience from the last few years to carry him through his gold-medal winning race.

“Literally when we were lining up, it seemed like a hurricane was coming past but you just need to stay calm at the moment and not worry about anything because everybody is competing in the same conditions,” Schoeman said.

“You just want to focus on yourself and control what you can control.”

Schoeman has had to roll with the punches over the years and has developed a thick skin as a result.

His Damascus moment came earlier this year where he was accused of breaching doping regulations during and in the build-up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Henri Schoeman celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the triathlon at Southport Broadwater Parklands in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo

He was later cleared of any wrongdoing and the whole ordeal, says Schoeman, better prepared him for the rest of the season.

“It comes with experience, I’ve managed to rack up quite a bit of experience over the years and I think that has been a major asset to me especially the whole thing that came out of the media earlier this year,” Schoeman said.

“I feel like I am almost bulletproof. Anything that gets thrown at me is almost like a breeze, so I am really just enjoying my time.

“It gives me super focus on myself and I don’t let anything bother me anymore.”

Schoeman certainly raced like a man that had no fear of facing a firing squad as he added the Commonwealth gold to his Olympic bronze medal from two years ago.

He won the 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run race in a time of 52 minutes and 31 seconds.

Schoeman has not only matured mentally but he now possesses the full spectrum of speed, strength and endurance.

The 26-year-old has always been more adept over the Olympic distance - 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run - but he has now proved he is lethal in equal measures.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Henri Schoeman smiles after his big win. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Just a month before the Games, Schoeman lay down the marker by winning the World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi which is a sprint event.

He became only the second male triathlete after two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee to win both the swimming and cycling events to go on to win a WTS title.

“It is very funny, I also consider myself to be better over the longer distances, and I obviously proved myself wrong that I can also do well over the sprint distances,” he said.

“I think it is all hard work, I’ve been working hard on specific points, especially the running and it paid off.”

The victory meant the world to Schoeman as he can finally see himself develop into the type of athlete he had idolised as a youngster and aspired to be.

“Growing up as a child I always wanted to be like the athletes that competed at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.

“I told myself that is where I want to be, I want to be winning medals and to be one of those people now is just everything to me.”


Sunday Independent

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