Breaststroker fished from Games triathlon race

Last updated 09:40 25/07/2014
Triathlon swim
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DIVING IN: The men's triathlon at the Commonwealth Games gets under way.

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Vincent Ochieng Onyango had never competed in a triathlon before when he decided to make the Commonwealth Games his first.

Suffice to say breaststroke is not the stroke of choice for triathletes. But it was for Onyango. When your freestyle is slower than your breaststroke and you only learnt to swim in your 20s, you really have little say in the matter.

The Kenyan Onyango was not quite this year's Eddie the Eel - because he at least figured he would make up ground if he could scrape through to the run - but he was close.

Swimmer Eric Moussambani rose to fame at the 2000 Olympics when he swam the 100m freestyle in a time more than double that of the fastest competitors.

Onyango didn't make it through the first of the triathlon legs before being fished from the water - his race over - after he was lapped by the leaders in their second of the two laps for the swim. Afterwards he was disappointed the rules didn't allow him to finish.

"I thought it was a good race," said Onyango.

"I felt it was a bit unfair to let developing countries like Kenya compete at the elite level with elite rules. I thought they should have let everyone finish the race.

"We are definitely not very good swimmers, but we are better bike riders and strong runners. I knew I would be last out of the swim, but definitely not last at the finish line. It's very unfortunate."

Onyango said that given the rules he knew the marshals were likely to scoop him out of the water at some point, but he hoped to be able to slip through the swim leg then make up ground on the leaders.

"I knew they would ask me to get out at some point, but it happened," he said.

Onyango said he made the surprising choice of breaststroke because without a wetsuit he was quicker at that stroke.

"I have swum the distance before, normally breaststroke, my freestyle I can do freestyle, but it is slower than breaststroke.

''With a wet suit my freestyle is faster than breast-stroke, with a wet suit swim I think I could have done much better," he said.

"I have a 30 minute 10km run, for the bike the course is really rough so maybe 1.05hr. I was hoping to do my swim, if it was a wet suit swim, in about 18 minutes so that would put me 10 minutes behind the leaders, just enough to survive."

He said that at the national duathlon championships he made up 13 minutes on the leaders in the run after the bike leg.

"Now I will wait for the team relay and hope to do better but it was a wonderful experience and I will be in Australia next year for the world duathlon championships," he said.

Earlier in the women's race another Kenyan Hanifa Said also had to be pulled from the water after almost being lapped by the leaders and struggling through past the half way mark of the second lap.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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