Tyler Smith secures another top-five finish in South Africa
Tyler Smith continued his strong start to the new season with a second successive top-five finish in the Africa Triathlon Premium Cup in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
Building on a fourth-place finish in the season-opening Africa Triathlon Cup Maselspoort at the beginning of the month, the 24-year-old battled his way to an encouraging fifth place in a strongly-contested Elite Male field.
The Bermudian crossed the line in a time of 1hr 42min 27sec – exactly a minute adrift of race winner Jamie Riddle, of South Africa – after exiting the 1500-metre swim in 15:21 and clocking 53:19 on the 40-kilometre bike course before finishing with a time of 32:29 on the 10km run.
Panagiotis Bitados, of Greece took second place in a time of 1:41:36, with Ireland’s James Edgar completing the podium places in 1:42:06.
Not only was Smith delighted with another strong outing, he was also encouraged to have completed his first Olympic distance triathlon since being forced to pull out of the World Triathlon Series Bermuda in November after suffering with anxiety and trouble with his breathing on the second lap of the 1,500 metre swim.
“For sure I was a little nervous with it being my first Olympic distance triathlon since Bermuda, which I obviously didn’t finish,” he said.
“This was my first time completing that distance since the Under-23 World Championships in Edmonton in 2021. With the sprint distances, if the fitness or form isn’t quite there, you can get away with a couple of things, but this distance is a real test of endurance, strength and speed and there is nowhere to hide.
“It was a tough course and a competitive field against former Olympians and guys who have won World Series events before so it was always going to be difficult.
“I knew between myself and a few others we had a chance to get away on the swim and bike and then hopefully fend off the faster runners and that paid off really well.
“It was a rough choppy sea swim, which really can help break up the field and so I came out in an OK position within the lead group.
“On the bike we worked really well and I think we were all just really motivated to get away from the faster runners. It suited me and ended up working to my strengths perfectly.
“My peak run speed isn’t quite there as yet, but I was really happy overall.”
Smith admits he will be turning his attention to improving in the run discipline as he continues to compete in the Africa Triathlon Cup series – essentially the third tier of elite-level racing – over the coming weeks in the hope of boosting his world ranking points and ultimately enhance his Olympic qualification prospects.
“I still have a lot of work to do because I know I can shave time off that run, especially over 10 kilometres as I continue to build on it. As that happens I know I can only get quicker and with it, more results like this will come.
“It’s two races down for me in this series with three more to come. I’m determined to keep these results going to put me in a good position to get into some World Cup and World Series races later this year.”
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