Schlebusch lay seventh, fully 27 seconds behind the leaders, after the swimming section and then found herself eighth and nearly a minute adrift after the bike segment.
“I was a swimmer before triathlon and it’s funny that the swim now is my worst segment,” said the South African afterwards. “Not just today – swimming is usually my worst. I definitely need to pick it up.
“During the bike section I was in the pack at the back but nobody was really working so it was quite hard to close into the first two. I hadn’t ever seen these athletes before. So I didn’t really know how they could do the run. I could see them in front, though, even if they were quite far ahead.”
Schlebusch trailed in third after the first of two laps of the final segment but ran each circuit 30 seconds faster than her Danish rival and almost 60 seconds faster than the Swiss.
“On the run, that is where I put most of my confidence, and I just decided to catch them one by one. Take each one as it comes. I tried to close them down and it managed to work.”
After reeling Weber in first of all and then Bendix Madsen, the South African was close to tears as she crossed the finish line, 11 seconds ahead of the Danish athlete.
“It was a bad swim but then I caught up on the run,” she said. “I’m really, really happy to end up feeling really strong. Now I can say I’m the Youth Olympic champion. It’s a pretty good title to have so I’m really stoked. I’m in this sort of disbelief right now.”