Purtell powers to silver in Italy


Words: Nikki Tilley

The town of Orosei in Sardinia, Italy will always hold fond memories for Southbroom triathlete Darryn Purtell (24). It was here that he won a silver medal in his age category at the World Cross Triathlon Championships held in the first week of October

Photo credit: Sean van Tonder Photography

While people in the sport recognise Darryn for his significant talent and dedication, those from his home town on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast may not have realised it just yet. Now however it is hard to deny the ability of this young athlete, although, as Purtell says, the recent result in Italy surprised even him. “I wasn't really sure what the competition would be capable of. Plus I was racing overseas for the first time,” he said. Although putting in a great swim, and in contention for the gold medal, Purtell finished just five minutes behind the winner Hannes Wolpert from Germany, who triumphed in a time of 2:27:07.

Asked about competing internationally for the first time, Darryn, who is also known as one of the most laid-back (competitive) individuals one can find in sport, says although he did experience some race-day nerves, they soon settled and said that, whilst daunting, he was glad he had had the opportunity to race against the best in the world. He further explains his mental approach as one where he tries to simplify things and not overthink. “I did get a
bit nervous before this one, but when I get nervous I try to think about other facets of the race to take my mind off what is making me nervous. I try to keep my thought processes to a minimum. I learnt from the master – my father Gary – and what he says about golf - you don't have to be brain-dead to play but it helps! It's very similar in racing.”

And his comments on comparing South African terrain with the Italian race terrain. Purtell explains that the actual route wasn't too different from back home in South Africa and says “I think growing up on the South Coast and racing in events around South Africa has prepared me well for any type of track”.

So what’s up now for Darryn? This Varsity College student will be knuckling down to his B Com finals in the next few weeks. He will also be teaming up with his cousin Hayley Smith, a fellow Mountain Biking champ, at Berg to Bush this coming weekend, followed by a race on their home turf in Scottburgh on the South Coast at the Seebreeze Build-It Bitter Sweet MTB Challenge. “It is always great to team up with my cousin, we have been competing together
for a few years now. Being family has allowed us to know each other’s style, our strengths and weaknesses, which makes for a strong team. I can’t wait to team up with him for the last few races of the 2015 season.” Says Hayley.

Looking ahead for these two youngsters, Hayley will be taking her mountain biking to a new high next year joining the Kargo Pro Mountain Biking and realising her dream of competing on an international platform. Darryn will continue to compete while working and looking for the perfect brand to align himself with.