CAPE TOWN – It was a case of agony and ecstasy for South African triathletes Wian Sullwald and Henri Schoeman on the world circuit this weekend.
Rio Olympics bronze medallist Schoeman was forced to withdraw during the run leg, while Sullwald had a confidence-boosting 10th places finish at the ITU World Triathlon Stockholm in Sweden.
Schoeman was joint fourth out of water after the 1 500m swim, and at first glimpse ending 35sec back on the bike leg, gave little reason for concern. But unknown to him, he’d been fighting more than his opponents on the bike leg.
"Very disappointed to have pulled out of the race because of severe cramping. It was very confusing because I was in control," said Schoeman on social media afterwards.
"I learned after the race that my brakes had moved because of the bumps of the cobbles at about half way and were touching the wheel pretty bad which explains the sudden “fatigue” feeling in my legs. It’s unfortunate but I’ll move on and be back ready for Rotterdam!"
Very disappointed to have pulled out of the race because of severe cramping. It was very confusing because I was in control. I learned after the race that my brakes had moved from the bumps of the cobbles at about half way and touching the wheel pretty bad which explains the sudden "fatigue" feeling in my legs. Its unfortunate but I will move on and be back ready for Rotterdam!! (c) @tzaferes
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Sullwald, meanwhile, clocked 1hr 50min 40sec as Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee won his first race of the year.
Brownlee won in 1:49:10 as only 1min 30sec separated the top 10 athletes. Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt was second in 1:49:28 and Pierre Le Corre of France third in the same time.
The results means that Sullwald now has two top 10 finishes on the international circuit after a ninth spot at the Gold Coast, Australia event.
His latest finish sees him moving up 16 slots to 21st on the World Series rankings. Two time Olympian Richard Murray is third and Schoeman is 12th.
Tuks/HPC head coach Lindsey Parry was impressed with Sullwald’s performance. "I could see he was a little rusty, but that is to be understood. It is one thing to train and something completely different to race.
"The highlight for me was his run. For the first 4.5 kilometres, he was racing shoulder to shoulder with the race leaders. When he realised that he might be burning off his energy too fast, he settled running at a more comfortable pace."
Sullwald will race next Sunday in the Czech Republic again before returning home.
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South Africa had a third representative in the Stockholm mix in the form of Gillian Sanders. She had a mixed bag of results in the Canadian block of her season and had to have blood tests back home in London.
Luckily tests revealed little more than high iron levels and a slightly elevated white blood-cell count. She ended 15th at the weekend in 2:05:48 as Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won in 2:00:09 from Britain’s Jessica Learmonth (2:01:30) and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle (2:01:42).
After the swim leg, the former Pietermaritzburg athlete had some catching up to do, something she did to good effect on both the bike and run legs. The result sees her climb three positions to 24th place while Duffy retained her top spot on the women’s rankings.