Weber just misses top 20 at World Junior Triathlon Championships
By Manfred Seidler
Posted on 09 June 2008
18 Year old Wickus Weber had the race of his life on Thursday, June 5, when he finished 21st at the world Thriathlon Championships in Vancouver, Canada.
The first year Sports Science student at the Pretoria University races in the colours of the TUKS/Nestle Pure Life and has made huge strides since joining the TUKS Triathlon Programme. Wickus is based at the High Performance Centre of Pretoria University, where his coaching is discipline specific.
Key to the success of Wickus is his grounding at the hpc where he has some of the world’s best facilities and sports science backing at his fingertips.
The 69 strong field struggled in the 13-degree temperature water on the 750m-swim leg. There is a feeling that the course was indeed a bit long as the fastest swim leg was the 13.24 of Great Britain’s James Adams. Under normal circumstances the swimmers would emerge from the water in around 9 or 10 minutes. Wickus’ 14.44 saw him emerge 31st out of the Water, but a 27min 12 sec bike leg (20km) saw him shoot right up into 20th spot. Despite running a massive PB of 15.58 in the 5km run, young Weber dropped one position to end in 21st as the first South African home. His finishing time of 59.06 is an enormous achievement and only 2 minutes behind the winner Vincent Luis of France. Loy De Jager and Richard Murray finished 40th and 49th respectively.
The story of Wickus is a remarkable one, as he was only really able to focus on triathlon once he had left school, as there were a whole host of other sporting codes he needed to participate in as part of his curriculum. He started competing in triathlon at the age of 13.
Within one year having started the sport he went to the World Championships to compete in the Junior Category. In 2005 he finished 53rd, a year later 56th; 2007 saw his worst result finishing 64, which makes his 21st finish this year a massive improvement. Wickus’ coaching was over seen by the experienced Libby Burrel (ITU Coach). Burrel took a group of Junior Triathletes over to Victoria, Canada on the 27th May as preparation for the World Championships and also to acclimatize. The group of which Wickus was a part, met up with the 2000 Olympic Champion Simon Whitfield of Canada.
In fact Whitfield played a huge role in Weber’s scintillating performance. The Canadian not only invited Wickus to train with him, but had him over for supper at his place and let him hang the Olympic Gold around his neck. That so motivated Wickus that in a message to his father before the race he said: ”I now believe I can become a champion.”
With the African Championship Title already in his possession and the very specific training he receives the hpc it is clear that in Wickus South Africa have a talent for the future, one who can eventually take over the mantle from Hendrick De Villiers.