PE para-triathlete wins gold

Parkin claims first national title at SA championships in Bloemfontein Port Elizabeth para-triathlete Charl Parkin’s bid for an Olympic appearance received another shot in the arm when he claimed gold at the SA Triathlon Championships at the weekend. Parkin left African champion Sebastian Crawford in his wake as he strode home for his first national title at the event, held in Maselspoort, Bloemfontein, on Saturday. Racing in the PTS3 category, Parkin said his race was helped tremendously by the overnight rain which had fallen a few days prior to the championships. “The Modderrivier looked like a mud river, but the water wasn’t cold, it’s not like the Ocean Racing Series where the water is choppy. It was quite calm, despite the limited visibility,” he said. Parkin said his swim at the championships had been much better than previous championships, as he initially planned to stay in Crawford’s slipstream, but decided during the swim to just give it a go. “My whole plan was to sit in his slipstream during the swim, but after about 200 metres I swam past him and decided to just keep going,” Parkin said. He chucked his initial game plan out of the water as he transitioned from the swim to the bike.

Despite a slight climb at the beginning of the bike leg, Parkin said both that and later the run went fairly smoothly without any major issues. Speaking about his opponent, Parkin said Crawford, a two-time national champion, who also finished second behind Parkin at the ITU World Cup in Rotterdam last year, was a force to be reckoned with on any course. “He’s been doing it for the last three or four years, he is also younger than I am.” After claiming the gold at the ITU World Cup last year, Parkin had spent the last few months participating in various competitions including the About IT triathlon series, the aQuelle Ocean Racing Series, as well as participating in the EP champs. “I would say the training, especially in the events here in the Bay, really helped, because the wind at Pollok Beach really helped me prepare for this [Bloemfontein] course, and if you can survive the PE winds, you can survive anywhere,” he said. Parkin will now explore the option of participating in a few triathlon races on the ITU World Cup series, but said funding was difficult as it had to come from his own pocket. “I am trying to cut down on my expenses, but the big thing is sponsorship, and I understand it is difficult out there as there are bigger problems than me not attending a world cup series race.” He now looks forward to the national youth and senior swimming championships to be held in the Bay next month.