Henri Schoeman made a statement ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games by storming to a gun-to-tape victory at the opening leg of the World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Leading out the water, he went on to dominate the sprint race, finishing in 57:03 and firing a warning at his opponents ahead of the Gold Coast Games, which was also set to be contested over the shorter distance.
After securing Olympic bronze in Rio and taking his first World Series win in Cozumel in 2016, Schoeman struggled to find his best form last year.
Recently shaking off reports of doping allegations after being cleared by international officials, Schoeman had finished second behind countryman Richard Murray at the opening leg of the second-tier World Cup series in Cape Town last month.
Taking another step forward, he delivered a superb performance in Abu Dhabi for his second career World Series triumph.
“It has been a tough year since the Olympics and it just feels so good to have made a statement,” Schoeman told the World Series website.
“I just tried to play it safe out there.”
Forming part of a strong SA triathlon team for the Gold Coast Games, the versatile Durbanite was confident of his chances at the multi-sport spectacle.
“It is good to have a race like this because it told me I am in great form, as the Commonwealth Games is my next race,” he said.
Murray, meanwhile, finished 10th in Abu Dhabi, and Gillian Sanders was unable to complete the elite women’s race.