Paul Munyuki in NYANGA
TAKING part for the first time in the Schweppes Troutbeck ATU Triathlon Africa Cup, arguably Africa’s toughest triathlon course, Kazakhstan’s Ayan Beisenbayev says he was surprised to win the elite men’s event. He said the race was tough. “I am very happy about the result because the race was hard, it was a tough course, but fair result for me. “I did not expect to win but I had very good preparations ahead of this race.
In two weeks time I am going to Australia for another race so this was a good opportunity for me to have race experience,” he said. Mauritian Fabein St Louis won the elite women’s race as she has proven to be the most loyal foreign athlete at the competition and her perseverance finally paid off on Sunday as she won her first gold medal in the event
It has been 11 years since the 28-year-old started taking part in what is one of the toughest triathlon courses in Africa. Although she had not won the top prize in the competition since her years as a junior athlete, she just kept going.
What even makes the victory very memorable is not just that the gold came after 11 attempts but that she was the last to leave the water but pulled herself together, remained composed and finished as the top runner.
Last year she finished third behind Jodie Berry and South African Cindy Schwults — who again finished second at the weekend — but she believes hard work has finally paid off after beating all the South Africans she was racing against in a field of four.
“It was a tough race like we all expected. I did not have a good swim coming out of the water I was at the back of the pack but I managed to avoid a big gap between me and (Carlyn) Fischer.
“So the two of us were working on the bike to catch the other (leading) girls on the front, we managed to catch Lorraine and worked hard till we caught Cindy,” said St Louis.
Last year when she competed in the race, St Louis was still based in her home country but has since moved to France where she is also getting more professional training programmes in better training conditions.
Given the decade she has been racing in Zimbabwe St Louis has fallen in love with Nyanga and Triathlon Zimbabwe and she was recognised her efforts and presented with a token of appreciation at the awards ceremony.
She managed to overcome pain in her legs to triumph. “I had sore legs and thought I would not win but I was so focussed. I think I had four races in my mind, I changed my goals maybe four times in the race, it was really difficult.
“This is my first win here and this place is like my first home. “My first race was 11 years ago and I am loving this place. I have succeeded to do what I wanted though I did not think that I was going to come first though I was hoping for a podium finish.
“I did not notice that Lauren Dance had pulled out (due to an injury) because there was a lot of pressure till I was on the run but never knew why she stopped. “But it was a good field, very close to each other,” said St Louis.