Despite Rio bronze, Schoeman still feels ned to quieten critics

Matt Jones - Editor 00:34 15/11/2016
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Schoeman took third in Rio.

The South African finished third in Rio, behind British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, yet he claims many critics felt he was lucky.

To prove he wasn’t, the 25-year-old then went and won the final event of the World Series season at Cozumel, Mexico, on September 19.

Despite his obvious talent, Schoeman says he will head into the 2017 season looking to prove more people wrong.

“All the pressure was off after the Olympics I thought but there was actually a lot more pressure that came on me after Rio,” said the Vereeniging native.

“Going in I was an underdog, I wasn’t in the limelight, but I knew my training had gone to plan, I was in the best shape possible and I was confident, I believed in myself. I knew if I executed everything well on the day then a medal was possible, and it paid off.

“A lot of people wrote me off as a one hit wonder so there was pressure. There were articles leading up to the World Series Grand Final writing me off.

“I like to prove people wrong though so that motivates me even more. I went into the race very relaxed and wanted to enjoy it, the biggest race of the year was done, I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do and I went there to have fun.

“To win that race was phenomenal and I was very excited, but there’s more to come and exciting times ahead. It was a dream come true to win the medal in Rio and then a gold at the Grand Final, so it was a fantastic end to the year and I’m looking to build on it next season.”

The 2017 season starts for the third time in the Emirates, with the opening leg of the World Series returning to the UAE capital on March 3-4, albeit with a new venue at Yas Island.

And with no Olympics to sway his focus, Schoeman insists he wants an overall series medal next year.

“The big plan last year was the Olympics and a lot of athletes sacrificed the World Series for that, but this year it’s going to be very competitive,” said Schoeman, whose older brother Riaan swam for South Africa at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

A place on the podium

  • Gold - Alistair Brownlee (GBR) Swim (17:24), Cycle (55:04), Run (31:09), Total time (1:45.01)
  • Silver - Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) Swim (17:24), Cycle (55:04), Run (31:16), Total time (1:45.07)
  • Bronze - Henri Schoeman (RSA) Swim (17:25), Cycle (55:01), Run (31:50), Total time (1:45.43)

“2017 is going to be a big year for me. I want to do well in all the series. I have plans to win the World Series and be world champion and then take the top step in four or eight years’ time at the Olympics.”

One person who certainly isn’t taking Schoeman lightly is compatriot Richard Murray, who also confirmed his attendance for the 2017 season opener this week.

“People didn’t really know who he was before [the Olympics] and might have thought ‘where did he come from?’, but he’s always been there,” said Murray, 27, who has a third and second place finish at the two previous Abu Dhabi events.

“He’s been getting better and better the last few years, especially his running has been improving. His swimming and biking has always been good. His medal goes to show he’s been putting the work in and I couldn’t be happier for him.

“I expect a big season from him. Last season was his first really good season. He was in the top 10 two years ago and fourth last year, so I definitely see him going for a higher ranking next season.”

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