Cape Town - South Africa's most celebrated beach sprinter Ryle de Morny says he will have to be at his best to win this year's national title and avenge last year's stunning defeat to KZN sprinter Johnathan Rorke.
De Morny triumphed at the recent Western Province Provincial Championships but it's his performance at April's General Tire Lifesaving SA National Championships in Port Elizabeth that will be the measure of his 2018 season, which he hopes will include selection for Team South Africa and the World Championship in Australia later this year.
Sport24 caught up with De Morny in the build-up to the nationals:
Question: Your (RDM) participation in 2017 was restricted because of the financial demands of self-funding and also a focus on the Western Province Athletics track season. How has this year’s preparation been knowing that sponsors General Tire, the National Lotteries Commission and Lifesaving SA have combined to cover the costs of Team South Africa for this year’s World Championships in Australia.
RDM: It's massive for the athletes who get selected to represent South Africa that they won't have to individually contribute financially to be a part of the occasion. I know from a decade of competing just how draining financially it can be and that is why in the past it wasn't always possible for the best to be at every competition. The individuals just couldn't justify the costs, so to have additional financial support is huge. It adds to the motivation of going to National Champs and performing well enough to be selected.
As for my preparation this year has been very interesting and it started last July with an emphasis on mobility work, flexibility, prehab and core. I felt magnificent by November and in shape for the track and the Lifesaving season. Then disaster struck and I was diagnosed with a sciatic nerve issue which put me out of competitive racing until the end of January. That ended my track season but the July to November period of training ensured I had strong base and it made my preparation for the Lifesaving season more manageable. I have had to manage the timing very carefully in order to produce at local comps, using it as a small stepping stone towards WP Champs and the National Championships in Port Elizabeth. The main goal is the World Championships, and peaking at the right time, but obviously the first objective is to get it right at the National Championships.
Question: KZN's Johnathan Rorke stunned you in the final of the 2017 National Championship Beach Sprint. Is revenge part of your motivation in 2018?
RDM: No, I wouldn't say revenge but there certainly is added motivation. It's very exciting for the sport that it is not seen as a given as to who will win. The quality of competitor has improved and I know that to win it I am going to have to be at my best. I have always respected the occasion of big events, in terms of my preparation and attitude and anyone who lines up against me. There are so many variables in beach sprinting that can influence a result, so I have never taken victory for granted. Jono (Rorke) has had a great season so far and I cannot wait to throw down against him and all the other great prospects. Hopefully it's an epic showdown.
Question: How do you keep on motivating yourself after a decade of consistently being No 1 and how difficult is it to excel in Beach Sprints and Flags at the same competition?
RDM: I have always believed in my own ability and that if I am at my peak then no one will beat me. My biggest opponent and competitor is myself and I am constantly challenging the me in me. As far as the two disciplines (Sprinting and Flags) go, they can be taxing in different ways and offer their unique challenges. I think the sprint will be tougher for me than the Flags in Port Elizabeth because of the quality of sprinter we have in this country.
Question: Eastern Province youngster Runaldo Pedro is currently the top junior Flag specialist in the world. Your thoughts on his potential?
RDM: I managed to watch a few of Runaldo's races taken from his international tour and he looked really great. I haven't competed against him but historically I have seen many a good junior struggle to adapt to the environment of competing against bigger, faster and stronger men who are at the peak of their development. Mentally it is also a very big step up, especially in the Flags discipline. But as I said, Runaldo has all the natural attributes and if he stays fit, works as hard as he currently does and continues to believe his ability he certainly will make his mark among the seniors.
*Port Elizabeth's Kings Beach will for the first time play host to the combined masters, senior, junior and nippers General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships from April 2-7. The extravaganza will see 2 000 athletes competing in over 500 races.