'You haven't seen how fast Henri Schoeman can run‚' says dad

08 February 2018 - 15:25 By David Isaacson
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South African triathlete Henri Schoeman.
South African triathlete Henri Schoeman.
Image: Gallo Images

Triathlon star Henri Schoeman is working on boosting his turbo in the running leg‚ says his coach who also happens to be his dad‚ Joe.

Schoeman‚ who stunned the world when winning Olympic bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics‚ competes against countryman Richard Murray in the Discovery World Cup in Cape Town on Sunday.

A superb swimmer and solid cyclist‚ Schoeman’s Achilles heel has been the running‚ but mainly because of stress fractures he endured years ago as a swimmer getting used to the rigours of the road.

His running is still a work in progress.

“You haven’t seen how fast he can run‚” says Durban-based Joe.

Joe and wife Michelle have produced two Commonwealth Games medalists and two Olympians.

Henri’s older brother‚ Riaan‚ competed at two Olympics as a swimmer‚ and he won a 400m individual medley bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Henri topped that with a silver in the mixed relay at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.

Joe was a cross-country athlete who also cycled in duathlons (he doesn't coach the swimming‚ leaving that to veteran mentor Alisdair Hatfield).

“Henri kicks faster [in the water] than I can swim‚” says Joe‚ who quit his job as an IT manager at a bank to focus fulltime on training.

While the 2018 Commonwealth Game in Gold Coast‚ Australia‚ in April are on the immediate horizon‚ Joe’s main focus is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“He will need to run [the 10km course in] 29 minutes or faster in Tokyo‚” predicted Joe.

“We’re working on that.”

Joe cycles in front of Henri while he runs in training on a track.

“He’s pacing me. I’m just breaking the wind for him. If I’m going too slow he nudges me in the back or I’ll hear a disgruntled noise behind me.”

He admits that he and his son have had their disagreements over the years.

“It’s difficult. I’m his coach and we’re father and son.

“We bumped heads. My wife always says he’s got the same personality as me‚ we’ve each got to have the last word‚” he says with a laugh.

But Henri’s dedication is immense.

“I’ve never asked my kids to train. It’s like brushing teeth‚ going to school‚ eating breakfast. Sometimes they’re rushing me to go with.”

Schoeman had a relatively quiet year compared to the high of 2016‚ which he finished off by winning the World Series grand final in Mexico.

“He got unlucky in four or five races. He had a chest problem in Abu Dhabi‚ he had a puncture … just small things that impacted on the race‚” said Joe‚ who will travel with his son to his next few races.

“It gets lonely travelling. And there’s noone to take the times in training.”

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