My Breakthrough Year – The Story Behind It

Despite having a bad race in the Elite World Championships in London last weekend ….. What an exciting roller coaster ride! I have also had some time to reflect on my season as a whole.

I started the year off by winning my regional championships followed by a third at our National sprint championships, which was incorporated as an African Cup. I then followed this up by being crowned the 2013 South African Champion a month later.

With no concrete schedule for the season, my plan was to be introduced into the WTS and gain as many points and experience as I can. In April I headed off to my first WTS race in San Diego and finished a disappointing 42nd. I expected way more out of myself and learned a couple of things on hydration the hard way. I then entered into Yokohama to give it one more shot at the series, to see how I perform against the best and finished in an incredible 6th.  I was very fortunate to have won prize money that enabled me to give the series another go in the Kitzbühel leg 6 weeks later. I wanted to take advantage of my small body frame as we had to race up the Kitzbüheler Horn Mountain.

When I arrived back in South Africa after Yokohama, I decided to race the African Championships in Morocco just two weeks later and won that. Being crowned as the 2013 African Champion was a very special moment in my life.

With lots of confidence and 4 weeks to train, I trained harder than ever before, preparing for both Kitzbühel and Hamburg that was two weeks apart. It took a good balance of speed and strength. Despite having an injury in my shin for the final two weeks before Kitzbühel, I took the risk and went anyway. I wasn’t going to let all my training be for nothing. I always love a challenge and Kitzbühel was exactly that! I had the race of my life and had my best career result yet, 4th. Knowing I could’ve gone harder inspires me to do better. Nevertheless it was just another learning curve and a big bag of experience pocketed.

I came back home to South Africa, did some final preparations for the World Sprint Championships in Hamburg and set off again a week later. The travel didn’t go well and I had almost zero sleep 3 nights before I raced. It may or may not have affected me in the final stages of the race, but I still finished 11th. It was a tough race and running with the three greats in the sport for one and a half kilometers, made my day! A little bit of history was made that day; for the first time there were two South African men ranked in the top 10 at the same time. Richard Murray was ranked 4th and I was ranked 10th.

After some good results and prize money earned, which I could use to get myself to one more race, I decided to finish off the year by racing Stockholm and London in an attempt to finish my debut year in the WTS close to 10th on the rankings.

Training did not go as planned at all over the next 4 weeks. It was up and down with a niggling injury. I lost some fitness from the travelling and worked hard to try and get back into the shape I was in before Kitzbühel.

In Stockholm I only finished 15th, a result which I was very happy for. During that race I felt kind of “flat” and only just had enough to finish. My body was totally run down and I went back home to South Africa with flu. This put me out for a week and left me with one week of training before the final week of preparations for the final race, the World Championships in London.

I was hoping the rest from the flu would make me feel more recovered and fresh, but in fact I just lost more fitness. I was still confident to race well, but my body couldn’t respond in London during the race and I struggled to the finish.

I finished my debut year in the WTS in 14th and I am very happy about that. There are many things I have learned and experienced that will only make me a better athlete. There are some things that I am going to work hard at and improve on so next year, I can do even better. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to travel the world doing what I love best, and also meeting many great people along the way.

To those who have supported me, it has been an overwhelming and a humbling experience, thank you!

Thank you to my sponsors; FINIS for sponsoring me my Specialized bike and the best swimming equipment; HUUB Design Wetsuits for the fastest wetsuit on the market, hands down; Puma for the FAAS shoes; Classic Eyes Gateway for looking after my eyes with Oakley and; Cytomax and CytoSport for the nutritional sports drinks. Also to TSA for the support and funds they could help me with.

I look forward to a good rest in November and then to get back to hard work thereafter. This year has been a good setup for Commonwealth Games next year and for when the 2016 Olympic Qualification starts

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Posted in General update, International experience, International racing, ITU World Championships, World Triathlon Series.