South Africa’s triathletes could open the country’s medal tally at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Henri Schoeman and Richard Murray lining up among the favourites for the podium on Thursday’s opening day of competition.
They will go up against British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee who bagged gold and silver at the Glasgow Games four years ago.
Schoeman and Murray may not share the same DNA but they are from the same South African soil, and upsetting the Britons for a 1-2 would make for a fairytale start to the Games.
They will be supported by former world junior champion Wian Sullwald, who shared a podium with his more esteemed compatriots at last year’s ITU World Cup in Cape Town.
Olympic bronze medallist Schoeman will be buoyed by his World Triathlon Series victory in Abu Dhabi last month and his second-place finish at the Cape Town World Cup in February.
“I am firing, I am ready, and I am really looking forward to a good race…I’ve been focussing on my training, body and making sure I get into the best shape that I can,” Schoeman said.
“I’ve got my sights set on a medal. That’s what I want to do, and I if I can win the race I will be going for that.
“Every athlete wants to win but it is going to be a tough race. We’ve got the England guys, the Aussies and we even have a strong South African team.”
Murray has had an equally good start to the season, racing to his second consecutive Cape Town title before winning the ITU Mooloolaba World Cup in Australia last month.
“Depending on how things go during the race, I definitely want the top step, but if I come second I will be happy,” Murray said.
Murray finished third behind the Brownlees four years ago, and while they beat him to the line again at the 2016 Olympic Games, he is confident of getting one over them.
“I’ve always been confident of beating them. It just goes down to how the race pans out and how it works out which makes it interesting because we never really know how it will work out,” Murray said.
“I think it is a good possibility (beating the Brownlees). My swimming is definitely at a better place than it was in Rio and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“It is also a sprint-distance race which is different compared to Glasgow.”
South Africa’s elite women – stalwart Gillian Sanders and Simone Ackermann – may not have the same chance of reaching the podium as the men.
They will fancy their chances of winning a medal in the mixed relay, however, after Schoeman, Murray, Sanders, and Kate Roberts earned the silver medal four years ago.