If medals should be awarded for athletes making comebacks Wian Sullwald (TuksTriathlon) will undoubtedly be contesting for gold.
However, Sullwald is never going to be satisfied with a sympathy medal. He wants the real deal. A medal he indeed raced for beating the best. It is not guaranteed that it is going to happen on Sunday when he competes in ITU World Cup in Cape Town, but know this he intends to make a real race of it. He owes it to himself to do so.
Ever since Sullwald became the Junior World Triathlon champion, it seems as if he has been dogged by bad luck like clockwork. Just as he is on the verge of making a real breakthrough into international triathlon racing he suffered some setback.
He had to overcome constant battles against an interesting variety of viruses and was involved in some bad crashes. All of this turned out to be insignificant as in December 2017 he survived an armed robbery attempt on his father’s farm. There was a moment he felt he might die. But being Sullwald, he thought he had coped with the ordeal. Promising to make the most of his second chance on life.
Impressively he got to compete at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games a mere four months after the farm attack. But something dramatically changed. Sullwald started to hate racing. At times when racing, he would suffer panic attacks. The more it happened, the more he felt like a failure.
Everything started to make sense when he was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to top it all also from depression as well. The only option left to him was to take a clean break from the sport.
For quite a few months last year, he did whatever he liked as long as it was not too strenuous. Drinking beer and sleeping late became quite enjoyable. However, there is truth in the saying “once an athlete always an athlete”. Something at the back of his mind kept bothering him.
“I will be honest. I seriously contemplated just to quit, but a little voice kept telling me not to. Indicating that I will regret it. Taking a complete break was actually the best decision I had made in a long time as it gave me the opportunity to realise that there are actually still quite a few good races left in my body and that I have not even come close to fulfilling my real potential," said the Tuks triathlete.
“I started training mid-September. The first time I race again was in December. I was fourth in a race in Namibia and second in Senegal. Ever since my training has been going well, but to be honest, there is still work to be done before I shall be at my best. My main goal for the season is to get good results consistently. It is important to do so as the Olympic qualification is starting in earnest from this year,” explained Sullwald who in 2017 finished third in the Cape Town World Cup.