Ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games we chatted to a host of South African stars about the challenge that awaited them, one of those stars was Kate Roberts, the triathlete who represented South Africa at the 2008 and 2012 games, as well as medalled in the mixed gender triathlon at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Kate has now retired from competitive sport and turned her hand to coaching the youngsters of the sport in a bid to build more potential in a growing sport in South Africa. We chatted to Kate about all things sport.
Jabu: Having competed in two Olympic Games and with the 2016 games just around the corner, why have you decided to retire?
Jabu: Now that you are out of the way, who do you think will represent SA at Rio 2016?
Kate: Olympic qualification for triathlon involves a two year qualification period during which you have to race World Championship Series and World Cup races all over the world in order to get enough points on the Olympics rankings. The current athletes that are in the best position to qualify include Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman and Gillian Sanders. There are still other athletes that could possibly qualify and are in contention but the problem is that they now need to earn most of their points in the final year of the Olympic qualification process when the fields are extremely competitive.
Jabu: Since we last spoke, you won a Commonwealth Games medal, is that the highlight of your career?
Kate: Yes definitely it was one of the highlights of my triathlon career and a day I will look back on and will cherish for the rest of my life. Achieving my childhood dream and representing South Africa at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and London Olympics in 2012 were also massive highlights and something no one will ever be able to take away from me.
Kate: I absolutely loved it and it is a very exciting format of racing and will just go from strength to strength. It is extremely spectator friendly and having males and females take part in the same race is pretty unique for major games events. It is not a predictable race and anything can happen and this makes it so thrilling for spectators. It is also a very strategic race and you have to identify which is the best leg for each athlete in order to get the best outcome. Unfortunately it won’t be on the programme at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 but is definitely set to be on the Tokyo 2020 programme.
Jabu: With South Africa set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, is that a goal you would set with your team to qualify for?
Kate: Yes, most definitely – it is a fantastic goal for my junior athletes and I hope that some of them will be representing South Africa in 7 years time. It is going to be absolutely amazing to host the Commonwealth Games in Durban, as it is the perfect location for a triathlon event and will be very similar conditions to the Gold Coast in Australia, which will be the host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It is particularly exciting for South Africa and it would be wonderful for me to possibly be involved in those Games in a management role.
Kate: I definitely do miss certain aspects of competing and training. I miss the camaraderie of training with others and encouraging one anther through tough times. I also miss that wonderful feeling of being so fit and completely in tune with my body. But to be honest I have no regrets about my triathlon career and you certainly won’t ever see a comeback from me in the professional arena. I am enjoying my sleep’s in on a Sunday morning and braai’s and social gathering with friends in my spare time instead of that worrying feeling of always having to train or rest and be strict with my diet. The first few months were tough and a total mind shift, but I am slowly getting used to the new lifestyle.
Jabu: What about any sort of veterans league, does something of that sort exist in tri-athlon?
Kate: Yes it does and one can compete as an amateur known in triathlon as an “age-grouper” all the way until 80+. If I do come back and race in triathlon events, I would like to compete in the half Ironman and Ironman distances but as an age grouper and this will only happen in a few years down the line. My main focus now is starting my coaching career and when things have finally settled I could possibly think about it. I am keen to get into running a marathon and progressing to doing the Comrades marathon (which has always been a dream of mine). I think from next year I will have one goal a year outside of coaching. Next year I may run a marathon, then the next year maybe doing the Otter trail run, the following maybe a Sani to Sea mountain bike race and then a Half Ironman triathlon and so on. There are so many wonderful races to do in South Africa, which are all on my bucket list.