• Euro Tripping, losing my bike and Zenani Mandela Campaign

    The excitement is building as the Olympics draw ever closer. I race in less than 3 weeks and the opening ceremony is in less than 2 weeks….eeeeek, so exciting!

    I have been quite busy with heavy training and a few other commitments. Last weekend I headed to Holten in the Netherlands for another preparation/training race and then earlier this week I was privileged to be asked to attend the Zenani Mandela road safety campaign for children as an ambassador.

    The Zenani Mandela Campaign was established in memory of Nelson Mandela’s great granddaughter who was tragically killed in a road accident after the Fifa World Cup Kick Off concert in Soweto. The campaign was established in her memory and to create awareness of global road safety for children. I was invited to attend along with some Jamaican Olympic athletes. I wasn’t quite expecting such a massive press presence. I guess I was in the company of 3 Olympic gold medallists, namely Nesta Carter, Shelley Anne Fraser Pryce and Sherone Simpson as well as the Jamaican High Commissioner and the South African Minister of Maritime Affairs, Dumisani Ntuli representing our High Commission in London. The evening involved some relay events with the children attending and promoting and bringing home the importance of road safety. After signing autographs for the children, I was then let loose onto the press and television crews where I hopefully reiterated the importance of educating children on road safety and how to prevent so many senseless deaths. You can read more about this fantastic campaign on

    http://www.makeroadssafe.org/takeaction/Pages/ZenaniCampaign.aspx

    Holten was great fun. Four of my Optima Racing team junior clubmates joined me for the trip and for their first international ITU race. Holten is a little town of about 4000 people and the whole town gets behind the race creating a great atmosphere. The weather is always fantastic and the course is really beautiful and challenging! My aim for the race was to just partake in the swim (and try a few new things out in a race environment) and if I didn’t have the legs on the bike, I was to drop out. I had a decent swim and felt strong as an ox on the bike even after a heavy weeks training. Jumping off the bike however James my coach screeched at me not to ‘beast’ myself on the run and to just cruise it in, using it as a training session. I pretty much jogged around the run course finishing 5th lady overall and some decent prizemoney. It was then time to watch the Optima juniors and the South African juniors who were also out for some international experience. I was so proud watching my little training partners out there, they did awesomely in their first international race….big things to come!Congrats to fellow South african Wian Sulliwald for taking the junior men's race title.

    There were a few little mishap's on the way back from the Netherlands though.Seems like its pretty bad luck travelling with my coach ;-). Firstly, our flight was overbooked so we had to stay an extra night in Amsterdam. The next morning we got routed via Manchester to get back to London. Unfortunately my bike box, which pretty much contains all my triathlon kit when I travel, and my coaches bag did not make it to London with us. There cant be too many things worse for a triathlete than hearing from airline staff that they dont know where your bike is. After spending most of the afternoon trying to get through to the airline to find out the situation, the best they could tell me was that my bike should be at Heathrow but they could not verify that and I must call back the following day. Given this was now 8pm in the evening and I had arrived back at 10am that morning and with the following days training in jeopardy, my husband went down to Heathrow. After scouring pretty much every terminal, and receiving very little assistance from the airlines customer services at the airport,he managed to get help from a security guard and a member of the check in airline staff (who was on the thier 1st week of the job), and eventually tracked my bike down and had it back to me just after midnight. So many thanks must go to the security guard and that member of the check-in staff for sourcing and getting my bike back to me.

    My fellow South African triathletes, who were in Holten, race inTiszaujvaros this weekend and I wish them best of luck and fast racing in Hungary. I’m off to Hamburg next week for that leg of the WTS series and my last race before the Olympics, with hopefully no lost baggage issues this time, so until then….

    G

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