South Africa dominated the 2008 ATU African Triathlon Championships in Tunisia and assured the country at least one representative in the men’s and women’s triathlon competitions at this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games
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The women’s race was an expected battle between Rabie and two-time defending champion Kate Roberts, also of South Africa, and the two women set the pace early. Rabie exited the water first, with Roberts just eight seconds behind. But out onto the bike course, the stronger cyclist Rabie pulled away, putting distance between her and Roberts. She didn’t let up on the run, posting the fastest run split of the day and cruised to the African Championships victory by three full minutes. Roberts held on for silver while Corinne Berg took the bronze as the third African athlete across the line, making it a complete South African sweep of the podium.
“It was cold and windy as I like it because it’s tough. I’ve been sick for two weeks so I wasn’t sure how it would go,” said Rabie. “My swim was a bit off from where it used to be but the plan was just to go head down from the start. Then on the bike I felt really good, I think I got off two minutes off the chasing pack which was four or five girls. Then on the run I was just working hard to keep that gap and make it bigger and bigger so I felt really good.”
It was another decisive victory for the in-form Rabie who will head into the BG Triathlon World Cup season opener in just three weeks riding a wave of momentum.
The victory assures South Africa at least one Olympic spot but it does not guarantee that spot will go to Rabie. Selection to South Africa’s Olympic team is discretionary. In ITU’s current Olympic rankings, both Rabie and Roberts are ranked high enough to earn South Africa two Olympic spots for the women. In the event both should drop from the Olympics rankings, South Africa would still retain at least one Olympic spot by virtue of Rabie’s win today.
2008 Yasmine Hammamet ATU Triathlon African Championships, Tunisia
Elite Women – Final Results
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
African Champion – Mari Rabie (RSA) 2:04:02
Silver – Kate Roberts (RSA) 2:07:03
3rd – Beatrice Lanza (ITA) 2:07:34
Bronze – Corinne Berg (RSA) 2:08:04
*Note: Although elites from any country may race for prize money, only athletes from Africa may earn ITU points and podium awards. As the third African across the line, Corinne Berg is the bronze medalist
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South Africa also dominated the elite team relays taking gold gold-silver in the women’s relay.
Team Relay Women – Final Results
1 SOUTH AFRICA, Team I (RSA) 1:11:43
2 SOUTH AFRICA, Team II (RSA) 1:15:03
3 ZIMBABWE, Team I (ZIM) 1:18:39
France won the women’s under23 races but as non-African athletes, they were not eligible to be crowned African champions.
Zimbabwe’s Ashley Finaughty won the junior women’s race to capture her country’s only gold medal of the 2008 African Championships. It was a convincing with for Finaughty who was runner-up in this category last year. South Africans Vicky Van Der Merwe and Carlyn Fischer took silver and bronze respectively.
Junior Women – Final Results
750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
1 Ashley Finaughty (ZIM) 00:59:54
2 Vicky Van Der Merwe (RSA) 01:02:45
3 Carlyn Fischer (RSA) 01:04:23
The 2008 ATU African Triathlon Championships marks the first ITU-sanctioned race ever staged in Tunisia. The country is the newest addition to the ITU family after becoming affiliated in 2007, the tenth African National Federation with ITU. The elite contests highlight a busy week at the ATU Triathlon African Championships. Earlier in the week ITU held various courses including level 1 officials and coaches clinics as part of its ongoing support to develop triathlon in Africa