A top-ten performance at the recent Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa has earned rising triathlon star Jeanni Seymour elite U/23 status and paved the way towards achieving her Olympic dreams.
The 19-year-old University of Johannesburg (UJ) student won the 18 to 24 age category for a second consecutive year and was the sixth woman overall at the East London event on January 31. She completed the 1.9km swim in 31:06, the 90km cycle in 2:43:43 and the 21.1km run in 1:40:40 for a combined time of 5:00:58. Seymour met Triathlon South Africa’s rigorous qualifying standards for elite status by coming within eight percent of the top female finisher’s overall time.
Last year’s performance also netted her a coveted spot at the Half Ironman World Championships in Las Vegas in September, where she achieved 12th place against the world’s best. She said her new racing classification provided an important stepping-stone in her sporting career.
“Now that I have my elite status, I’ve also applied for a professional licence from World Triathlon. If they grant me that, I can compete at a professional level against the top triathletes in the world.”
The Randburg-based athlete, who took up the sport two years ago, followed up her performance in East London with victory in her age category at the Central Gauteng Triathlon Championships this past weekend. “I’ve been doing a variety of sports from a young age but this is the one I’ve chosen to focus on and I absolutely love it.”
Seymour, who is coached by professional triathlete Freddy Lampret, said her plan was to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016. “I’m on a really big programme to build up my base, which includes doing Half Ironmans for international experience.”
The second-year B.Sc Sport Science student said one of her major challenges was balancing her training schedule and university studies. “UJ’s been great – I’ve just extended my degree a bit and lessened my subject load so I can train a bit more and still keep up with my studies. Some days, I’m training five or six hours. Most days we do all three disciplines – running, cycling and swimming.”
Seymour said her future ambitions included competing professionally and possibly pursuing a career in biokinetics. “I’d also like to train future triathletes – I’d love that.”
The provincial champion is looking forward to competing at the national triathlon championships in Port Elizabeth in March.
Image: A top-ten performance at the recent Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa