Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Schoeman confident he can win gold at Tokyo Games

"If I look back five years ago to Rio, to where I am now, physically, mentally and in terms of confidence, I'm a completely different and better athlete."

Five years after stunning a full-strength field to grab the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, triathlete Henri Schoeman is eager to take a couple of steps up the podium as he targets gold at the Tokyo Games.

Having finished third at the Rio showpiece in 2016, where he held off a late challenge from compatriot Richard Murray, Schoeman went on to win gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Though he struggled to find consistency at the highest level in recent seasons, he established his place among the global elite by earning three podium places in World Triathlon Series events, including a memorable victory in the 2016 grand final.

Henri Schoeman Commonwealth Games

South Africa’s Henri Schoeman holds up his country’s flag after winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Picture: Getty Images

“My preparation for the Olympics is going really well,” the 29-year-old athlete said at this week’s announcement that Mr Price had come on board as the Team SA kit sponsor.

“We’re still a few months out so there’s a lot of building up to do, but I’ve got three or four international races coming up (starting next month) to kind of gauge where my fitness is.”

Though his build-up had taken a knock due to the lockdown, and he hadn’t reached the podium at an international race since he finished second at the Yokohama leg of the 2019 World Series, Schoeman was brimming with confidence ahead of the Tokyo Games in July.

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The versatile star, known for his ability in the water, was also expected to add significant depth to the South African team in the mixed relay race.

“If I look back five years ago to Rio, to where I am now, physically, mentally and in terms of confidence, I’m a completely different and better athlete,” he said.

“So I have no doubt I can win that gold medal.”

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