Amber Schlebusch won South Africa’s first ever triathlon gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on the opening day of the quadrennial showpiece.
She won the race in a time of 58:45 courtesy of a smashing run leg finishing ahead of Sif Bendix Madsen of Denmark (58:56) and Switzerland’s Anja Weber (59:36).
The Grade-11 pupil at Durban Girls College’s gold-medal run crowns an incredible year for South African triathlon.
It is the country’s second major title at a global multi-sport event after Henri Schoeman‘s victory in the men’s category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
“I’m in this sort of disbelief right now, it feels amazing I really can’t believe it,” Schlebusch told the ITU website.
“Now I can say I’m the Youth Olympic champion, it’s a pretty good title to have so I’m really stoked. I have no words.”
She got out of the water in the fifth place, 27 seconds behind early leader Maki Uchida of Japan.
Bendix Madsen and Weber dominated the 20-km bike leg taking the lead out of the transition with a pack of seven athletes which included Schlebusch chasing
The duo came out of the transition with a 37-second advantage going into the 5-km running leg.
Schlebusch produced a blistering final one-kilometre run overtaking Bendix Madsen with less than 500 metres to go.
Her run split of 17 minutes 15 seconds — more than a minute faster than Bendix Madsen — was the best run on the day which ultimately gave her
“It was a bad swim but then I caught up on the run, I’m really really happy to end up feeling really strong,” Schlebusch said.
“I wasn’t expecting a medal, I was expecting a top-10 finish. I wanted a top-10 quite badly, but this is even better.”
Schlebusch came into the Games buoyed by podium finishes at major European races over the last few months.
She won bronze at the ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup in Holten and silver at the 2018 Tiszaujvaros ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup in Tiszaujvaros.
Schlebusch got a taste of senior racing earlier this year when she teamed up with Olympians Richard Murray and Gill Sanders and fellow junior De la Porte in the mixed team relay event at the Hamburg leg of the ITU series in Germany where they finished in 15th place.