The Mercury

Schoeman clinches first World Triathlon win as Brownlee seizes up

- Ockert de Villiers

AFTER earning his maiden World Triathlon Series victory, Henri Schoeman will finish the year in fourth place overall after winning the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico yesterday morning.

The series came to a dramatic climax as Schoeman overtook race and series leader Jonathan Brownlee with 400 metres to go to clinch the title.

The dying moments of the race was characteri­sed for scenes of sportsmans­hip and brotherly love as two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee came to Jonathan’s aide.

Jonathan was clearly battling from exhaustion and the heat as his legs began to fail him before Alistair locked arms with his brother with the duo finishing the race step for step.

Alistair pushed his younger brother over the line for second place with the Rio Olympic gold medallist finishing in third place.

“It was a tough race in the heat, and I wasn’t feeling good, sluggish but I kept my cool on the run,” Schoeman told The Mercury.

“Patience paid off and I’m really happy to have come out on top and the strongest athlete on the day. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my year.”

Schoeman’s victory came exactly a month after he won the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics behind the Brownlees.

After finishing in fourth place South African Richard Murray waited at the line for Spanish training partner Mario Mola, who clinched the 2016 ITU World Championsh­ip title.

In the end only four points separated Mola and Jonathan Brownlee for the overall title with Schoeman earning his first top-five finish with 3 160 points while Murray ended the year as the fifth-ranked triathlete.

The early stages of the race was somewhat of a repeat of the Rio Olympic Games with the Brownlees among the first out of the water.

Schoeman followed shortly behind them, joining a nineman pack on the bike where he kept the leaders within touching distance in the back.

The run leg ultimately came down to better pacing as Jonathan made an early move only to be overcome by the heat.

“I knew it was going to be warm out there. I just tried to stay calm throughout the whole race,” Schoeman told triathlon.org.

“I was just running with the Brownlees and trying not to exert too much and then I saw Jonny pull ahead on that third lap.

“So it is just so unfortunat­e that he collapsed at the end; I think both Brownlees deserve one and two, but it is an overall race that counts and I am the one who ended up the strongest.”

The Spanish Triathlon Federation appealed for Jonathan to be disqualifi­ed for accepting assistance from his brother. But the ITU Competitio­n Jury ruled that athletes can receive assistance from other athletes and he was cleared.

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