Wian Sullwald, leading South African triathlete Photo: Reg Caldecott

JOHANNESBURG – Top South African triathlete Wian Sullwald has been given a second chance in life after surviving a horror, armed robbery attack outside his parents farmhouse outside Bella Bella last December.

And on Tuesday he received the kind of good news he has been anticipating to help ease the nightmares when he was selected as one of five triathletes for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Australia. 

Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman, Gillian Sanders and Simone Ackermann are also in the team.

During the December holidays, there was a brief moment when Sullwald thought that his life was about to come to an abrupt end. 

He and his training partner, Dylan Nortje, and a German triathlete, Jonas Schomberg, were overwhelmed by five armed robbers at his parent’s farmhouse outside Bella Bella. 

After Sullwald took the robbers to the family safe, he was again tied up and made to lie on the floor. One of the robbers got quite agitated as he thought that there must be another safe.

“I could hear the gun pointed at the back of my head being cocked back and expected him to pull the trigger at any moment. He did threaten to do so. He wanted me to look down, but I told him that if he wanted to shoot me, he would have to look me in the eyes,” said the Tuks/HPC-triathlete.

“I had made peace with what was about to happen. It saddened me when I realised how much there still was what I wanted to do. I had only achieved about 5 percent of the goals I set myself.  

“My biggest concern was not for my own life but for that of my parents. I was scared that they would walk in any moment and who knows what would have happened then.”

No shot was to be fired. It was as if Sullwald’s prayers had been answered as his uncle arrived in the Knick of time. The moment the robbers became aware of his presence they fled. 

At the same time, Sullwald’s dad arrived and started to give chase in his car. He managed to catch up and force the robbers of the road. They fired several shots at Sullwald's unarmed dad. Luckily he was not hit. Most of the robbers were apprehended.

Sullwald is honest. The incident has changed his perception of life and the way he thinks about things. 

“I still often have nightmares. At times I tend to get agitated and aggressive. Small little things trigger these emotions.

“The positive, if one can take anything positive from what happened, is that my perception of life has changed. I realise how lucky I am. I want to live each day to the fullest. There must never be any regrets again,” the Tuks/HPC-triathlete said.

“My perception about racing has also changed. In the past, during some races, I tended to panic. I don’t think that will happen again because whatever happens can never be as traumatic as what I have through in December. If I can survive a robbery, I can survive anything.”

Sullwald has set himself three goals for the season. The first one is to medal at the Commonwealth Games. He considers it to be a realistic goal. He also wants to finish overall in the top ten at the World Series and wants to end the season with a high ranking in the Olympic qualification.

Last year some of Sullwald's best results were a third-place finish at the World Cup-event in Cape Town and racing to a ninth-place finish at the World Series event at the Gold Coast. 

African News Agency (ANA)


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