Top Zimbabwean and foreign triathletes will brave the expected high temperatures as they go head to head in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Cup in Nyanga on Saturday.
There is additional spice for the athletes as many nations are using the competition as an Olympic qualifying opportunity.
This event is an Olympic qualification points race and will see triathletes from USA, South Africa, Israel, Egypt and Mauritius competing against their local counterparts in a 1 500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Zimbabwe’s hopes rest on South Africa-based Chris Felgate qualified who finished second in the elite race last year’s event.
Felgate competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics courtesy of IOC Solidarity Funding and a scholarship supplied by the International Triathlon Union finishing 42nd and is currently competing in South Africa on the ATU circuit.
Laurelle Brown, who finished fifth in Maputo before proceeding to take part at the World Series Grand Final in Beijing, Shannon Wilson, Brendon Michell, Corey O’Riodern are also expected to represent Zimbabwe in the Under-17 and 19 categories.
Rick Fulton, the Zimbabwe Triathlon Association president told NewsDay Sport that everything was now on course for the start of the event on Saturday.
“The long wait is now over and everyone is looking forward for what promises to be some exciting competition tomorrow.
“All foreign and local triathletes who had registered to participate are all here except for two guys from Ukraine, Andriy Glushchenko and Oleksiy Syutkin and Mehdi Essaq from Morocco who withdrew at the eleventh hour,” said Fulton.
Erhard Wolfhardt from South and Fabianne St Louis from Mauritius with both are out to defend their titles in the men’s and women’s races respectively.
Wolfhardt will, however, have his work cut out as he will face competition in the men’s elite race which has eight triathletes including home favourite Felgate all gunning for top honours.
Other serious contenders in the men’s race include Or Berger from Israel, Valery De Falbaire, Colin O’brady and Sean Jefferson from the USA, Travis Johnstone and Rudolf Naude from South Africa and Omar Nour from Egypt.
In the women’s elite race it will be a two horse race between Mauritian Fabienne St Louis who won gold last year and South African Carlyn Fischer.