Mur­ray in a triathlon hurry

The Independent on Saturday - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VILLIERS

TRIATHLON hard man Richard Mur­ray is on the cusp of be­com­ing the first South African to claim an over­all podium place in the World Triathlon Se­ries when he lines up in the Grand Fi­nal in Rot­ter­dam to­day.

Mur­ray has brushed aside the dis­ap­point­ment of miss­ing out on a medal at the Rio Olympics, where he fin­ished fourth, to come out swing­ing in 2017.

At the be­gin­ning of the year Mur­ray said he planned on hav­ing a bit of fun in 2017 and the lack of pres­sure has seem­ingly paid off.

He opened his cam­paign by win­ning the Cape Town World Cup while he picked up medals in three of the five WTS races he has com­peted in this year.

Cur­rently third in the rank­ings, Mur­ray needs to fin­ish top four and ahead of Fer­nando Alarza of Spain for a guar­an­teed spot on the over­all podium.

Spa­niards Mario Mola and Javier Gomez are ranked first and sec­ond in the over­all rank­ings and are firm favourites to claim the se­ries ti­tle.

“The WTS wasn’t my fo­cus for the sea­son so if I fin­ish in the top three over­all it will be great, but like al­ways I am just go­ing to give it my best and the re­sult will take care of it­self,” Mur­ray said.

“It is pretty cold here and we are go­ing to have wet con­di­tions. It’ll make for in­ter­est­ing rac­ing. The bike course has some cor­ners and with the rain it’ll be tricky.”

Olympic bronze medal­list Henri Schoe­man, who won last year’s Grand Fi­nal in Cozumel, will be look­ing to move up one spot for an over­all top-10 fin­ish.

Last year Schoe­man and Mur­ray fin­ished the sea­son fourth and fifth in the over­all rank­ings.

Wian Sull­wald will be the third South African man to line up in the Grand Fi­nal to bring an end to a break­through year.

The for­mer world ju­nior cham­pion landed a podium spot next to Schoe­man and Mur­ray at the Cape Town World Cup in Fe­bru­ary and will be look­ing to fin­ish as close to the over­all top-10. as pos­si­ble.

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