Williams, Duncan 1st Africans home

HARARE - Zimbabwe Junior Men triathlete Drew Williams was the first African home in the storm-interrupted ITU World Triathlon Championships that were reduced to duathlon in Chicago, America on Thursday.

The St Johns College schoolboy raced home in 50th place out of 79 competitors in a time of 00:56:29 in the competition that was reduced to bike and running.

Brazil’s Manoel Messias won the category in 00:51:50, Peer Sönksen (00:51:51) of Germany came second while France’s Léo Bergere (00:52:01) finished in third place.

South Africa’s Wickus Saunders (00:58:07) was placed 55th while Mauritius’ Laurent L’Entente (00:59:53) finished a distant 62nd.

Triathlon Zimbabwe coach Pam Fulton was pleased with Williams’ performance given the circumstances.

“This event scheduled to be held on September 17 at 4:30pm, was at the last minute postponed due to pending thunderstorms. All athletes, coaches and managers were evacuated from the swim start, to the Congress Hotel across the road.

“There, we were informed of a delayed start and later informed that it would now probably be a duathlon-5km run (2 laps)/20km bike (4 laps)/2,5km (1 lap) run,” Fulton said.

“That was later confirmed and the start time was to be in 20minutes; obviously this situation was hard for all athletes to cope with and gave them minimal time to warm up properly. This later resulted in many athletes cramping. Drew coped exceptionally well with the situation, having mixed feelings about it being a duathlon, as he has worked exceptionally hard on his swimming since he qualified for Worlds.”

“With such uncertainty and confusion at the beginning of the race, I feel Drew coped exceptionally well with the situation. He gave his all throughout the race and I am extremely proud of him and his result. He has done Zimbabwe proud.”

Meanwhile, Chisipite Senior School student Rebecca Duncan also participated in the Junior Women category at the same championships a day later after it was also postponed from the 17th to the 18th due to the persistent weather concerns.

She finished in position 54 and was also the first African athlete home.

The race however, despite being postponed and brought forward by 20 minutes, was a full triathlon course.

Duncan cloaked 01:08:55 in a race won by Germany’s Laura Lindemann in 00:57:28. America’s Taylor Knibb was second in 00:58:14 while Norway’s Lotte Miller finished third in 00:58:39.

“Rebecca was nervous as expected but managed to keep them under control. The swim splits were fast as Rebecca led the last pack into T1. Her transition was fast as usual, but this time a bit too fast as she earned a 10 second penalty for mounting before the line,” said Fulton.

“She had a pack to work with on the bike which was good, and she took it on herself to get the pack to work together to start catching those ahead.

“After lap one, she saw she had a time penalty and slowed down in the pack on the second lap to ask when she must take her penalty. This resulted in her touching wheels with another bike and unfortunately brought herself down.

“Being the strong, determined girl she is, she picked herself up and continued. Obviously she was upset and shocked at first, but she put it behind her and dug deep to start catching the girls again. She managed to rein in a few girls before reaching T2.

“Her run was strong and she finished 54th overall. This was a huge experience for Rebecca and I am sure she has learnt many valuable lessons from it,’ said Fulton.

Egypt’s Rehab Hamdy was in 56th position in 01:09:37 while South Africa’s Maude Le Roux did not finish her rain.

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