After a tough two years battling illness and injury, Henri Schoeman has come back to add a world title to his Olympic bronze and Commonwealth Games gold medals and bring the Bahrain Victorious 13 team its first world championship win of the year.
The South African star claimed the title of World Triathlon Esports Champion over the weekend by rising to the top of the overall rankings at the Super League Triathlon Arena Games series. Consistency was key in this win: he notched second place at the Grand Final in London after placing second at the kickoff in Montreal last month and then winning in Sursee the week after.
The Arena Games format blends real life and esports with a 200-meter swim done in a pool and 4-kilometer bike and 1-kilometer run done on trainers and treadmills linked to the Zwift virtual platform. This iteration of triathlon may potentially be added to future Olympic Games; with this win Schoeman has shown he can excel in both traditional and hybrid formats.
He showed no signs of the ankle injury that plagued him leading into the Tokyo Olympics, nor the elbow and arm fractures from the bike crash last year that saw him withdraw from racing halfway through the year. On Friday, he masterfully did just enough to rank in the top two in his heat to automatically qualify for the Saturday evening final and skip needing to race the morning repechages.
The men’s final contested over three stages saw Schoeman place third in the first stage swim-bike-run, then tied in the top two in the second stage run-bike-swim. A second-place finish in the final stage swim-bike-run then tipped him over the top to win the series by 15 points.
“There are no words to describe it,” he said post-race. “I just wanted to come back into racing and sharpen up my body, but I fell in love with this style of racing and I’m so fortunate to compete in front of such an amazing crowd here in London.”
Bahrain Victorious 13 and Mana Global CEO Chris McCormack stated, “This victory shows why the Bahrain Victorious 13 team system works. We continued to believe in Henri through bad times and good, and with this win he has paid our faith back.”
While not in contention for the overall title, Bahrain Victorious 13 teammate Cassandre Beaugrand raced hard in London to set a new Arena Games swim record, win her qualifying heat, and claim the silver medal in the final.