Swiss champ looks forward to Ironman in Bay

BIG DRAWCARD: World champion Daniela Ryf will compete in the Ironman African Championship in Port Elizabeth on April 2 Picture: GETTY IMAGES
BIG DRAWCARD: World champion Daniela Ryf will compete in the Ironman African Championship in Port Elizabeth on April 2
Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Some may have already placed their bet on two-time world champion Daniela Ryf to take this year’s Ironman African Championship crown and they may be disappointed to hear she has other plans.

The 29-year-old professional triathlete from Switzerland says she will not be out to break any records but will take part in the race just for the experience and enjoyment.

“For me at the moment it is really all about building up. I think April is an early race so I am not really going for the record to be honest.

“I want tox enjoy the race. I won’t be looking to do something crazy out there. It’s going to be a good test.”

The year’s women’s race promises to be a thriller as there are many tough international contenders who will be gunning for top honours.

Ryf, who recently won the Ironman 70.3 Dubai, will be up against Ironman African Championship title defender Kaisa Lehtonen, of Finland, the United Kingdom’s Susie Cheetham, who came second last year, and Jodie Cunnama, also from the UK, winner of Ironman Asia-Pacific.

The two-time Ironman Switzerland winner is no stranger to South African shores.

“I raced in South Africa before in 2006 in Richards Bay. I have good memories and I am looking forward to coming back to South Africa,” she said.

“This time the race is going to be much longer so I will have to save my energy for the end. But I have done a few Ironmans now so I know what to expect.

“Of course you will never know . . . it’s a long day. But I am looking forward to the race and I heard it’s a very hard bike course, the city is very windy and I think that makes it a very challenging race.

“I decided to start earlier this year because I have some races I want to do later in the year. I think it’s also a great opportunity to come to South Africa. I have heard a lot of good things about the course and it’s good to test yourself early.”

After winning her second Ironman World Championship last year, Ryf became the eighth woman to win more than one world title and fifth woman to successfully defend her title.

Retired five-time Ironman African Championship winner Raynard Tissnik warned athletes who will be visiting the Bay for the first time to be wary of the weather conditions.

“I don’t think there is too much to worry about the course but the weather can obviously play a big part.

“The course might seem flat but if the wind starts blowing it can play havoc . . . Do not spend too much energy early on in the race as it could get hot in the afternoon,” he said.

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