Perfect start for Bay athlete

Keegan Cooke
Picture: Supplied

Cooke begins title defence with windy weather triathlon victory

Bay triathlete Keegan Cooke got his title defence off to a perfect start as he claimed victory in the opening round of the About IT Triathlon Summer Series at the weekend.

Cooke was undeterred by the windy conditions to finish in one hour, two minutes and 39 seconds, shaving seven seconds off his round one time at Pollok Beach last year.

Cooke strode out for the run leg with a decent lead, despite the wind causing trouble for most participants in each of the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, finishing over two minutes ahead of secondplaced Graeme Renard (1:04.57), while Justin Fraenkel finished in third in 1:08.15.

As Cooke’s preparation continues for the International Triathlon Union world cup in Cape Town next year, he said the win was a good sign for him.

“I felt good throughout, I just tried to keep it steady in all the disciplines. My body doesn’t feel too bad, I’m just glad the legs held out,” he said.

“The last few races have been pretty much the same, you get a head wind in the beginning and smooth sailing on the way back.”

In the women’s section, Durban-based Amber Schlebusch, 16, crossed the line in a time of 1:12.41, ahead of Alexia Loizou in 1:16.07 and Sanja Steyn in 1:21.48 in third.

Having recently returned from a trip to the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam in September, Schlebusch also had to contend with the tough conditions.

“I tried to stay with the front group in the swim, but on the bike they were too quick, especially with the conditions out there, on the run, I just tried to keep it steady,” she said.

Enjoying the school holidays and off-season time, the Durban Girls College pupil said she was not properly prepared for the race, but still enjoyed the outing.

An SA under 17 triathlon champion, Schlebusch continues her preparations for the Youth SA triathlon championships in March, with an eye on a team spot for the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October.

Disabled triathlete Charl Parkin, 49, the PTS3 Men’s open champion at the ITU event in Rotterdam in September, finished the round in a time of 1:28.07.

Using swimming as a means of rehabilitation, Parkin said the wind, although strong, helped him and other triathletes on the return leg of each discipline.

Parkin is working towards securing a spot in the South African squad for the Commonwealth Games next year, and the 2020 Paralympics squad.

The team section was clinched by Bay junior triathletes Jamie Riddle and Grey High pupil Aidan Baker in a time of 1:07.44.

The next two rounds take place at Pollok Beach on Wednesday and Saturday, before the final round in Port St Francis on Tuesday.

Top results:

Men 1 Keegan Cooke 1:02:39, 2 Graeme Renard 1:04:57,3 Justin Fraenkel PE 1:08:15, 4 Ross Helliwell 1:08:23, 5 Jarryd Cooke 1:09:23. Women 1 Amber Schlebusch 1:12:41, 2 Alexia Loizou 1:16:07, 3 Sanja Steyn 1:21:48, 4 Charne Hiscock 1:24:12, 5 Rebecca Van Der Merwe 1:24:52.

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