By Triathlon South Africa on 21/07/16 at 8:25 am
By Mark Etheridge
Stellenbosch’s Nicholas Quenet was South Africa’s best-placed finisher in the recent European tour by a group of the country’s rising triathlete stars earlier this month.
The group, under the watchful eyes of Viv Williams and Riana Robertson, took part in two events, the first in Holten, Netherlands and the second in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary.
Quenet comes from a quality sporting background with sister Alex a star in her own right, training with Rio Olympics bound Mari Rabie and father Anton, himself a Springbok triathlete.
Quenet junior had two top 10 results on his European experience.
The first-year accounting student at Stellenbosch University shared some of his thoughts with Road to Rio 2016. ‘I started off as a competitive swimmer and went through all the swimming ranks. I then decided two years ago to switch over to triathlon; partly because I wasn’t built according to the “typical textbook” swimmer build and partly because my dad shared some of his stories with me.
‘I swim with Maties swim club, cycle by myself and run under the guidance of Ernie Gruhn [former coach of Olympian Elana Meyer] who is also my triathlon overseer. I have a great passion for triathlon as this sport always keeps me on my toes as there’s always room for improvement in my racing. This continual search for that “perfect” race is what keeps me ticking.’
Quenet went on sum up his two big races.
‘It was my first international race and I didn’t know what to expect. But I was confident in my abilities as I knew I had put in a good, consistent block of training back in SA. The race was going to be fast and brutal as there were many established triathletes, including former European and national champions. The weather for the day was showers with quite a heavy wind blowing and called for a wetsuit swim – which for any strong swimmer is not the ideal as it makes the swim a tad easier for the less confident swimmer.
The swim was tough from the word go, off the pontoon and into the freezing water with 75+ other motivated triathletes. I managed to work myself up into third position before the first buoy, but this wasn’t easy as jostling for position was the order of the day. Coming out of the water I saw there was a decisive break in the field with a lead pack of around 10-15 boys forming. A quick transition and we were on our way into Holten, the town where we would navigate two technical loops which included a nasty hill and a couple of stretches of cobble stones. This was made even more difficult by the wet road conditions. I sat in the pack nicely up until the last hill where a rider lost control of his brakes and swerved into me almost causing me to be taken out. This was decisive because at this moment an attack was made and caused me to lose the contact of the pack. With only three kilometres into transition I knew it wasn’t over yet so I tried limiting my losses and got into transition as soon as possible. Running out of transition my legs felt strong. I knew I had it in me to run myself into the top 10 at least. A tough run course, with good legs played in my favour and i managed to run down six competitors and putting myself into eighth place. A result I was ecstatic with and would never have expected possible.’
Tiszaujvaros final, Hungary
‘This time the course was different to the semi-final which I had won the previous day. The nerves were slightly more than the previous day, but I knew it was an honour to be racing in the final and a good opportunity to chance my hand. A good, comfortable swim and I was sitting in a good position on the bike. Unfortunately the race came together on the bike which caused some bizarre riding and a total disregard for cycling rules on the turn-arounds. This caused me to lose wheels and dropping back to almost the back of the group. A position I knew I shouldn’t be in if I wanted to have a chance. Entering T2 and I was quite a way down, but a good fast start to the run and I was in the first run group of around eight. This was reduced to six and I was feeling good. But unfortunately on the last lap I started feeling the effects of that hard work done in the beginning of the run and the effort done in the semi-final. I hung on well to a credible sixth place, with the thoughts bugging me that a podium was definitely on the cards. A motivation I can carry into my training leading up to my next big races.’
Summing up and Quenet will continue his career with that extra injection of motivation. ‘Europe was a very special experience for me and one where many special memories were made. An extra-special mention must go out to our two managers, Viv Williams and Riana Robertson whose wisdom and passion for the sport spilled over to the whole team and to TSA who funded most of our tour. A great tour with a great group of triathletes. I can only wish for more enjoyable and successful tours to come.’
Picture courtesy of Anton Quenet
- See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2016/07/20/new-kid-on-the-block-quenet-puts-his-hand-up-in-europe/#sthash.8aWP7FSW.dpuf
Find more details about this event - 2016 Holten ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup