Local rivals to fight it out in triathlon World Cup
One of the great rivalries of South African sport resumes in Cape Town on Friday.
Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman goes up against countryman Richard Murray‚ just seven seconds slower at the Rio Games‚ in the Discovery Triathlon World Cup.
Schoeman‚ whose breakthrough came on his sport’s biggest stage‚ is displaying more confidence these days. "I’m going for nothing less than a win‚" he said at a media conference on Thursday.
The sprint triathlon — a 750m swim‚ 20km cycle and 5km run‚ as opposed to the Olympic distance‚ which is double — is supposed to favour Murray.
But Schoeman has other ideas. "Richard likes a sprint race and I typically prefer an Olympic-distance race because you get a better chance to get a breakaway going.
"But I’ve been working on my running‚ so no matter if it’s a breakaway on the bike or if we’re all together on the run‚ I think I’ll be very competitive."
Murray’s strength has been in the final run leg‚ but Schoeman‚ traditionally a quick swimmer‚ has improved his running in the past year or so.
Schoeman was considered second fiddle to Murray when they went into the Olympics, but he edged his more successful compatriot into fourth place.
"It’s great to have rivalry among two South Africans."
Pick any sport you want‚ but there will be few occasions when two South African competitors at their peak are battling for supremacy.
"It’s great for spectators and it’s great for other athletes who want to get involved. It’s great I was able to get up there.
"Richard was the first to get results on the international stage and I respect him for that," said the Olympian.
He rates the Cape Town course as fast and not too technical. "It’s got a couple of U-turns‚ but I’ve been on worse," he said.
Schoeman admitted there was extra tension in the first race of a season, as the condition and fitness of one’s opponents was unknown.
"You’re definitely a bit more nervous. You’re not entirely sure if this guy’s on form or maybe peaking at a later stage in the year," he said.
The men’s and women’s races are scheduled for Saturday afternoon.