By Olalla Cernuda on 13/01/17 at 1:20 pm
The race, organized by the Fédération Royale Marocaine du Sport pour Tous last month was hosted in beautiful Dahkla, a holiday village in the Sahara desert. A 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, elite athletes geared up for fast, flat race to round out their winter training.
“When traveling to Dahkla, our flight was delayed, and our luggage, including the bikes, missed the connecting flight,” explained Hillebregt.
He was not the only one affected by this, as many other athletes had the same problem. However, while their luggage arrived on time in top condition, Kojc was less lucky.
“When he opened the case, the bike was broken in two places. It was impossible to compete with that. In Dahkla it was also impossible to buy or rent another bike,” said Sandi Ivancic, Kojc’s coach.
When Kojc had nearly lost hope of racing, and with it any chance of scoring important ITU points, Dutch triathlete Hillebregt stepped in.
“Nik approached me asking whether I had a spare bike and if he could borrow it. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I decided to lend him my bike,” he said. “During a race we are all competitors and of course we try to beat each other. But before and after a race, I think it should be normal to help each other. Especially in a situation like this, which could happen to all of us and is totally beyond one’s control.”
During the race, Kojc led the field into T2 on Hillebregt’s bike, while in a twist of fate Hillebregt sat last in the group after enduring mechanical issues just one kilometre from the second transition. By the end of the race, Hillebregt finished in 10th place, with Kojc just paces behind in 13th, enough to score him his first ever ITU points.
“When everyone has been given a fair chance, I think winning or good results are worth even more,” said Hillebregt after the race.
Find more details about this event - 2017 Dakhla ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup