South Africa’s bid to qualify a team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will start in earnest at the World Triathlon Mixed Relay in Nottingham on Thursday.
A quartet consisting of Commonwealth Games champion Henri Schoeman, Richard Murray, Gillian Sanders and Anel Radford will be looking to earn crucial points to secure a mixed relay spot for Tokyo.
It is the same quartet that finished seventh at the 2017 Mixed Relay World Champions in Hamburg and will be looking to at least crack the top-5 in Nottingham.
The team could not select Simone Ackermann, who has not returned to full fitness following her injury at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
Triathlon coach Lindsey Parry said they could nevertheless select a top-class team for the relay event.
“We have selected a strong team which is a sign of how serious TSA (Triathlon SA) and the athletes are actually taking the relay at the Olympic Games,” Parry said.
“It is a crucial race because if we didn’t enter a strong team we would struggle to get a start at the subsequent races where we may not race our strongest team.”
Parry said once they had amassed enough points to make it onto start lists it would allow some of the top elites to focus on their individual races.
“Hopefully they will get off to a good start and once that is done we will then be in a position where the best athletes can focus on their individual careers,” he said.
“TSA and the athletes are really taking it seriously and the medal opportunity for Tokyo 2020.”
Although South Africa is looking healthy in the men’s department with the likes of Schoeman, Murray and former world junior champion Wian Sullwald, they are looking to grow the depth among the women.
The 36-year-old Sanders may extend her career to 2020 but TSA would be looking for a few replacements should she suffer an injury.