Ruan Van Zyl a Grade 10 pupil from Tygervalley College took part at the recent ITU Cross Triathlon World Championshipson the 16th of August.

Ruan has been preparing for the event since May, after his selection to the South African team, with absolute dedication. Although he battled with a severe foot injury during his preparation phase and suffering a debilitating fall during the race, he still came in at 9th place to finish Top 10 in the world. This shows character of the utmost proportion!!

Here is a breakdown of the race…

Ruan was very confident going into the race and he didn’t let the enormity of the new experience overwhelm him. It is the first time that he went overseas and to add to the excitement, he was going to take part in one of the biggest Cross Triathlon events on the planet. He was also the youngest athlete to compete only being 16. Considering all of this, he handled the pressure with the poise and the professionalism of an experienced pro athlete.

The morning of the race was wet and cold. True European weather. The race got under way with a quick start from Ruan in the 750m swim. He was able to exit the water in 8th position just ahead of his other two South African team mates, Michael Lord and Michael Ferreira. Ruan would like to thank Alex Haberstroh his Swimming coach from Tuks and his running and cycling coach Lindsey Parry from HPC Tuks.

Michael Lord edged ahead of Ruan during the transition to the 24,8km cycle. Together they started chasing down the leaders. Within only 3 kilometres they had worked themselves into 2nd and 3rd position respectively. Feeling great at this point, Ruan took the gap in a sharp turn to pass Michael for 2nd position and to hunt down the leader, Florian Klingler from Austria, who eventually got crowned World Champion. During the manoeuvre his tyre lost grip and he fell very heavily, cracking his helmet, wrecking his shield-glasses, bruising his entire body and badly injuring his left knee.

This was basically the end of the race for Ruan. He could have given up there, but nevertheless he carried on with excruciating pain from the knee, shooting up his leg and back. finishing the remaining 21km cycle and the 5,5km run, to still finish 9th!!!

All I can say is that Ruan is one tough young man with incredible character. This is what the world’s best are made of…