Richard Murray delivered a solid performance in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, but it was not the best day out for South Africa’s top triathletes at the opening leg of the World Series campaign.
Murray, who won the World Cup sprint race in Cape Town last month, got off to a conservative start and paced himself well to finish fifth in the elite men’s contest, which consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run.
He completed the event in 1:53:25, nearly a minute behind five-time series champion Javier Gomez of Spain who won in 1:52:31.
Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman had taken control in the early stages and led out the water.
Despite staying in contention on the bike, however, he faded on the run and settled for 10th place in 1:54:35.
Former world junior champion Wian Sullwald was also looking good on the cycle leg but he crashed on a hairpin bend and was unable to finish.
In the elite women’s race on Friday, lone South African representative Gillian Sanders had taken 20th position in 2:11:08.
She was well off the pace, with Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand securing victory in a tightly contested sprint for the line in 2:03:46, edging out Commonwealth Games champion Jodie Stimpson of Great Britain who clocked the same time.
The second leg of the annual World Series will be held in Gold Coast next month.