South Africa triathlete Jamie Riddle says he is extremely honoured after his Top 10 finish in the men’s triathlon event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The country’s hopes had been on 2018 Commonwealth gold medallist Henri Schoeman, but the star athlete withdrew prior to the start of the race.
Team SA stated that Schoeman was rested to prepare for Sunday’s mixed relays, but he has been dealing with a recurring ankle injury.
However, it was time for Riddle and Dillon Nortje to shine for South Africa at Sutton Park.
22-year-old Riddle made his presence known from the start as he led after the first turn swim and then was third after the bike run.
It was during the sprint where Riddle phased out as England’s Alex Yee won gold, with Kiwi Hayden Wilde and Australia’s Matthew Hauser rounded out the podium.
Riddle finished sixth in his Commonwealth debut race in a time of 51:32 – 58 seconds behind Yee.
“I’m feeling really proud and honoured. The Commonwealth has such a big meaning behind it and I felt it today. I was representing my country in the best way I could and gave it my all,” said Riddle.
“I hope I got the guys going and I think it’s going to boost the sport of triathlon and that’s the important part. There’s a start and finish like life, and you go through a lot of ups and downs so it’s a cool message as a sport.”
Nortje finished 21st as he ran across the finish line in 54:12.
However, there’s still the Mixed Relays set for Sunday with Schoeman already taking his place and Riddle likely to join.
“They are two different races and you really get together as a team,” said Riddle.
“You try and use that South African gees to come out on the day and bring something completely up your level to the team vibe.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s triathlon race on Friday, Simone Ackermann ended as the best-placed South African as she finished 15th as fellow countrywomen Shanae Williams ended 20th and Hannah Newman 21st.
The triathlon mixed relay is scheduled to get under way on Sunday at 14:31 SA time.