It is no longer debatable. Triathlon ace Richard Murray is one of the toughest buggers in South African sport after he won back-to-back Discovery Triathlon World Cups in his own backyard in Cape Town over the weekend.
Two years ago Murray watched the race from the sidelines with his arm in a sling and his Rio Olympic dreams all but dashed.
He had crashed on the bike leg at the World Triathlon Series race in Gold Coast, Australia breaking his collarbone.
But Murray fought his way back, coming within a whisker of an Olympic medal with fellow South African Henri Schoeman finishing ahead of him at the global showpiece.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has bounced back with a bang, as if the setback was nothing more than a small inconvenience.
He earned top-five World Triathlon Series rankings in both 2016 and 2017, which is a testament to his consistency on the world circuit.
Murray opened the 2017 season bu leading a South African sweep of the podium at last year’s Triathlon World Cup in Cape Town, with Schoeman and Wian Sullwald in tow.
The 29-year-old hard-man did it again this year with his relentless pace on the run leg again proving too much for a chasing Schoeman, while Sullwald was missing due to a hand injury.
Murray and Schoeman’s performances bode well for South Africa’s medal chances at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
“To start the season off with a win and to hear the South African anthem play is very cool,” Murray said.
“We will race the Commonwealth over the same (sprint) distance and we will swim without a wetsuit, but it will be the next big focus.”
South Africa’s medal prospects in the mixed relay also received a shot in the arm with Simone Ackermann finishing fourth in the women’s elite race in Cape Town.
It was her first race in South African colours on home soil after she had switched allegiances from her adopted country, New Zealand.
“You really want to show you can race well here at home and for me, it was quite an important race to do well in,” Ackermann said.
“Because this is my first race here I really wanted to race well in South African colours. That was important to me.”
Attention will now shift to the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi on March 3 and 4, which will be one of the last races for athletes to fine-tune ahead of the Commonwealth Games.