One would be forgiven for thinking that being the highest ranked South African and African triathlete in the world means you have to be a grizzled veteran. Yet, Richard Murray is a sprightly 25-year-old who last year came 17th in the London Olympics and only relatively recently decided to pursue a career in triathlon.
“I starting running and cycling as a child and dabbled a bit in triathlon, but was not a particularly strong swimmer. I won the World Junior Duathlon Championships for two years in a row in 2008 and 2009. It was a great feeling and I decided to take a chance and compete in the World Triathlon Championships.
“Unfortunately, I was absolutely hammered but it made me realise I needed to focus on swimming and challenge myself to get to the highest level,” he says.
And while he admits that experience is important in triathlon, you have to put the hard work in to progress.
“I love being outdoors and to do a passion as a job is quite special. For those starting out, I would recommend going the biathlon route as a great way to get into multi-sports. In fact, some schools are quite active on that front already.”
However, he cautions against becoming too serious too soon.
“No matter what you do, there is no point in trying to make money from the get-go. It takes a lot of time and patience to learn the ropes and how best to pursue your chosen path. As long as you enjoy what you are doing, the rest will follow naturally.”
Considering that he placed second in the ITU World Triathlon Series in London at the end of May, after he managed third in Japan a few weeks earlier, Murray is clearly enjoying what he does. And with four events still to go in the season, the South African who is now fourth in the world rankings, clearly has an exciting future ahead of him. — Iwan Pienaar