Lombardi still fighting fit at 38
By Wilhelm de Swardt (Beeld)
Michelle Lombardi (Salomon/Giant) might be a veteran of South African endurance sport but that does not mean she has forgotten how to win.
At 38 the mother of two is one of South Africa's top Xterra-mountain-bike triathletes. Not only did she win the DueSouth South African Championships (1.5km swim/ 30km mountainbike, 12km run) in Grabouw last year, she also finished 2nd in the Xterra event in England, was 3rd in France, 5th in Germany and 7th at the World Championships in Hawaii.
Tomorrow in Grabouw Lombardi is hoping to defend her South African Championship title. Four weeks later she is off to Italy to compete in the European Xterra Championship.
Lombardi, a four time South African women's mountain-bike champion and one of the top female adventure sport athletes, makes it clear that Xterra triathlon is now her preferred sport.
Her only frustration is the swimming. "It is really frustrating to be able to cycle and run quite well but when it comes to swimming it is a battle for survival."
She reckons that Carla Germishuys, daughter of the former Springbok-winger Gerrie Germishuys, and Hanlie Booyens, also a previous SA mountain-bike champion, and Jeannie Bomford will be her main rivals in Grabouw.
Top Hungarian triathlete Eszter Erdélyi (25) and American triathlete Hannah Cornett (25) will make their debuts in the daunting Xterra course in Grabouw.
According to Erdélyi she has heard a lot of good stories about the South African event. "It is a big challenge for me to try my skills outside of Europe. I would love to learn more about the country and do as much sight seeing as I can before I leave. However, right now I am so nervous about the race I can’t think about anything else."
Erdélyi has an impressive track record, which includes a 4th place at the Xterra European Championship, 6th at the Czech event and 3rd in Germany.
Cornett makes it clear that she consider triathlons to be the most difficult sport one can participate in as an individual. She managed a 3rd place at the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii and finished 4th at Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco.
Cornett lists her other professions as surfer, actress, model, teacher and computer data base manager.