With his second-place finish at the 2014 Buffalo City ATU Triathlon African Cup over the past weekend Wian Sullwald has shown that he is getting used to racing longer distances.
His second place in the 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run makes him the South African Under-23 champion. This is not at all bad, considering that it is only his second year of competing over the Olympic format distances.
Richard Murray, who is currently ranked 4th on the points list of the International Triathlon Union (ITU), won and Wikus Weber finished third.
The exciting result for Sullwald is that he has improved his ranking with 10 positions and is now ranked 70th in the world. Murray and Henri Schoeman (16th) are the only South Africans who are ranked higher than Sullwald.
“I have to admit that the first standard triathlon of the season is always a huge shock to my system. To be merely fit is something quite different from being racing fit, but I do get stronger and stronger with every race.
“What is gratifying to me about the African Cup race was that I was the strongest swimmer on the day. I had a quite a good lead on Richard and the rest of the feold when going into the cycle leg, but unfortunately it was not enough. I was hoping to increase my lead by getting away on the bike with one or two other athletes.
“Because Richard is such a strong runner, my only hope of beating him at the moment is to go into the run with a good lead. I really missed Henri. If he were competing there would have been a good chance that we could work together on the bikes and maybe even manage to stay away up to the run.
“I realized that it would be foolish to try to outride everybody for 40 kilometres because Richard was in the chase group with quite a few other athletes and they would certainly have caught me. Therefore I saved myself for the run.
“During the first few kilometres of running I was able to prevent Richard from opening too big a gap. However once I realized that I had no chance of catching him I decided to just consolidate my second place. I finished the running at a nice comfortable pace.”
According to Sullwald his preparation for the race was far from ideal. “I had a slight hip and gluteal injury that prevented me from doing much running before the event.”Sullwald’s next major race will be the African Championship on 14 April in Zimbabwe.