Cape Town - For Wian Sullwald,
the South African Under-23 triathlon champion, the next 12 days will boil down
to the simple slogan: ‘Go big or stay home’.
The Tuks/HPC athlete’s performances on Sunday, May 8 at the Cagliari World Cup in Italy and the following Saturday, May 14 at the
World Series event in Yokohama will determine whether or not he qualifies for
the Olympic Games in Rio.
Sullwald’s current ranking of 57thon the International Triathlon Union’s Olympic ranking list is not good enough.
He needs to at least improve by 17 positions.
But all is not lost.
Lindsey Parry (head
coach at Tuks/HPC) is confident that it is still possible for Sullwald to
qualify but it is not going to be easy.
“If Wian can get a top 10 finish in Italy
and finish in the top 20 in Yokohama he will have done what is needed. A top
five finish on Sunday will be even better because then he will not be under so
much pressure in Japan.”
However, what will make things tough for
Sullwald is that, with less than two weeks to go in the two-year Olympic
qualification process, pressure is at an all-time high. The men’s start list will
certainly be loaded with athletes who are on the verge of making their Olympic
dreams come true.
Sullwald’s performance at the World Series event
in Cape Town two weeks ago was disappointing. He finished 30th, nearly
90 seconds behind Spanish winner, Fernando Alarza.
According to Parry, Sullwald made a mistake
in the transition from the swim to the cycle.
“This meant that he was not with the race
leaders on the 20km cycle. There was no recovery after that. The cruel reality of
racing at the highest level is that there is no margin for error. Every second counts.”
Sunday’s race in Italy will again be a sprint
triathlon (750m swim, 18km cycle and 5km run).
Basson Engelbrecht (Tuks/HPC), who finished
44th in Cape Town, will also race on Sunday.
According to Parry, Engelbrecht also made a
mistake in the first transition which put him out of contention.
“In Basson’s case it can still be
understood. He is only 21 and is still
learning his trade. He did not have the best of swims, which caused him to panic
and make a mistake during the transition. I am confident that it will not
On the International Triathlon Union website
Italy’s Alessandro Fabian is tipped to be one of the favourites. He is known
for his speed on the run and seems to be a certain choice for the Italian
Olympic team. He will be ready to fly in
front of his home crowd, which makes him a dangerous threat this weekend.
But Fabian will nevertheless have to contend
with France’s Aurelien Raphael, who often leads out of the swim, as well as
with Sullwald who is hungry for a strong finish to claim South
Africa a third men’s spot at the Olympics.