SA triathlete Richard Murray will start as defending champion on Sunday. Photo: supplied

CAPE TOWN – South Africa's Richard Murray, the defending Discovery Triathlon World Cup Cape Town champion, is set to go head-to-head with countryman Henri Schoeman, for the 2018 men's title on Sunday.

Schoeman came second in the 2017 event which starts at the V&A Waterfront and finishes on the Green Point Common.

Murray, the first South African to win an Olympic medal for triathlon after winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will be the favourite for the event, the only World Cup triathlon event that takes place on African soil.

Meanwhile, four South African women are among the top contenders for bragging rights of being called the the Triathlon World Cup Cape Town champion. 

South African Gillian Sanders was announced as part of the South African Commonwealth Games team, and is set to take on the 2018 season after achieving first place in the 2017 Dakhla ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup in December. 

Sanders also came first at the 2017 Yasmine Hammamet ATU Triathlon African Championships in May, and placed fourth at the 2017 Aqaba ASTC Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup and West Asian Championships in October. 

Simone Ackermann, who now wears South African colours, will also be looking to announce her arrival in the South African team with a bang. 

International competitors setting their sights on the podium include Joao Pereira from Portugal, who was placed fifth in the Rio Olympics. As a regular face on the ITU World Triathlon Series, he is one of the athletes to watch in this 2018 opener. 

After a strong season last year, the young German Jonas Schomburg will be looking to make his mark on 2018, as he works towards his goal of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

Other elite athletes coming to Cape Town are Brazilian Manoel Messias, the 2015 Junior World Champion who placed third in the 2017 Salinas ITU Triathlon World Cup, and Stefan Zachaus from Luxembourg who is keen to rise up in the ITU ranking in order to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Non Stanford and Vicky Holland from Great Britain are both athletes to watch in the women’s event, Stanford having finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, with Holland winning the Bronze medal. 

Stanford placed strongly in a number of events in 2017, taking a gold medal at the Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup, and in 2016 she came first at the ITU World Triathlon Cape Town.  

African News Agency (ANA)

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