His brother Jonathan is the in-form athlete in the World Triathlon Series at present, but in his absence, older brother Alistair Brownlee will be flying the family flag at the Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town on Sunday.
While Jonathan has won two of the three races in the World Triathlon Series so far, Cape Town will be Alistair’s first World Triathlon Series race of the season. It will also be the British triathlete’s debut in the Mother City after missing last year’s event due to injury.
“I’m really looking forward to starting my World Triathlon Series season in Cape Town. I was pretty fed up that I couldn’t make the trip with Jonny after a good winters’ training. But I have also learned that injuries happen, so it will be good to get the season underway.”
Alistair struggled with injuries last season, but got his timing just right to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He is now the reigning Olympic and Commonwealth champion.
Despite his reputation, Alistair believes that he has to be realistic when it comes to his expectations for Sunday 26 April. “I’d like to think I will be competitive and I want to be competitive, of course. Most of the others on the start list have already raced a few times this year so it will be tough. There are some new faces breaking through this year as well as the more established names so it will be a good race.”
According to Alistair, he needs to ease into the Series this Sunday, but he is more than willing and ready to race. “It’s a long season and I need to be at my best in August and September, but I’m looking forward to racing in Cape Town.”
One hundred and thirty elite triathletes from 80 countries will participate in the Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town. This will be the fourth event in the 10-city tour, which finishes in Chicago later this year. It is only the second time that a leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series will be hosted on the African continent, with the finish at the brand new Green Point Athletics Stadium, the first international event to finish at the venue. The swim leg of the race will take place at Quay 6 at the V&A Waterfront.
South African hopes
Richard Murray will lead the South African onslaught in the second year that Cape Town hosts the World Triathlon Series. Murray was the best local performer in last year’s race with his fifth position after the second fastest run of the day. The other local athletes that will offer some strong challenges are super-swimmer Henri Schoeman and youngster Wian Sullwald. Both Sullwald and Schoeman won their first World Cup races in 2014, while Murray has been the top South African on the circuit for the past few seasons.
Murray won a Commonwealth Games medal in Glasgow last year and finished on the podium several times in the World Triathlon Series. This year he started strongly once again with a third place in Abu Dhabi, the opening race on the Series calendar. He followed that up with a World Cup win in New Plymouth and fifth place at the WTS Gold Coast. Schoeman gave his best World Triathlon Series performance recently when he finished sixth at the Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Auckland.
Though Schoeman and Sullwald are improving all the time and becoming real podium contenders, Murray is for now South Africa’s big hope. He is one of only a few runners who can stay with and drop Javier Gomez and the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan. He has come close to beating super-fast Mario Mola as well. The Capetonian has been working really hard on his swimming in the off-season, missing the South African summer to be with his coach Joel Filliol in Europe to work on this discipline that is holding him back. “I have done around 30 to 35km swimming per week in the off-season. It has been the most constructive swimming I’ve ever done.”
For Murray the race in Cape Town is the big focus of the season. “The goal is to improve on my fifth place from last year. There is so much support and I don’t get to race in front of family and friends that often so I really want to put up a good show!”
Race dates and times
The Elite Women’s race will take place on Saturday 25 April from 14:55 until 17:15, and the Elite Men at the same times on Sunday 26 April.
South Africa’s Mari Rabie is confident of a strong showing on Saturday.
She is one of four local women racing against some of the world’s best triathletes. Other South Africans on the starting line are Gillian Sanders, Vicky van der Merwe and Anel Radford. Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town will be the fourth race in the World Series after Abu Dhabi, Auckland and Gold Coast.
Last year’s Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town was Rabie’s first ITU race since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “It felt like a mini-comeback for me. But a mere two months later I was diagnosed with a heart condition, myocarditis. I had to rest for eight months. So this year is even more of a comeback than last year. I have only started training in February. My mindset is pretty much the same as in 2014. I just want to see what I am capable of. The competition will the good and I have to be realistic about my expectations for the race. I just want to focus on myself rather than try and compete with some of the best triathletes in the world.”
Rabie has always been a strong swimmer. “Despite resting for eight months my swimming is still competitive and I must use that on the day. I am still working on getting stronger and better in the other two disciplines. I will be solid on the bike and run. No fireworks though. Three months ago I wasn’t allowed to get my heart rate up and on Saturday I will be in action on the highest level again. For that I’m grateful. That is my victory.”
Rabie has been racing overseas in some World Cup races and she finished second at the South African Xterra (off-road triathlon) Championships at the end of February where she raced against World Xterra Champion and one of the favourites for Saturday, Flora Duffy from Bermuda.
Participants have the option to enter either the Sprint or Olympic distance and para-triathletes (PT2 – PT5) can enter the Sprint event. Team relays for both distances are also on the schedule and entrants can participate from the age of 11. The Sprint distance includes a 500m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run. The Olympic distance includes a 1 500m swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run. The minimum age for the Olympic individual is 18 and for teams, 16. Schools are also welcome to enter teams in this special category. Late entries will still be accepted.
Join the action at the V & A Waterfront.
For route information or entries, go to capetown.triathlon.org.
Triathlon is for everyone!