BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN NYANGA
After an encouraging display on his debut in the elite category, Zimbabwe’s rising male triathlete Gideon Benade is targeting another learning experience in the Bonaqua Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Union Sprint Triathlon African Cup in Nyanga today.
Benade (20) made his senior debut last year and went on to finish 12th out of the 14 triathletes, who finished the gruelling race at the popular resort.
The former Peter House College student will be the country’s lone representative in this year’s event and he is relishing the opportunity of improving, as he tests himself against some of the sport’s rising stars.
“Hopefully, there is not too much rain so that we can have a dry course and fast times. I’m still learning and developing myself as an athlete, so I’ll have a similar strategy to try to build it up and run my own race against these guys,” Benade told reporters during yesterday.
Benade, who became the first local male elite triathlete to compete at Troutbeck since retired Olympian Chris Felgate in 2012, is targeting to qualify for the Rome 2024 Olympics.
“What I learnt last year is that when it’s your first race, you’re not always going to come last. You just run your own race. I’ve not really set myself any specific targets and just hope to continue improving,” he said.
A strong field of 19 elite male triathletes is expected to battle for the coveted title, which last year was won by Jonas Breinlinger from Germany.
Breinlinger was expected to line up, but withdrew at the 11th hour due to illness.
His absence is expected to leave the field wide open, with South Africa’s Dylan Nortje and Germany’s Maximilian Schwetz among the favourites.
Meanwhile, a field of seven participants will battle for honours in the women’s elite race.
Ireland’s Carolyn Hayes will be the favourite after recently winning two African Cup titles in Morocco and Senegal.
In addition, an inaugural ATU Junior Triathlon African Cup will be staged at the same venue, which will see Zimbabwe hosting athletes from Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa.
The supporting events on the day include an African Cross-Triathlon (Off-Road) Championship, Schweppes Corporate Triathlon Challenge, Zimbabwe Triathlon Championships over a number of events, Tri-Kidz and Trisports triathlon, Aquathlon (run-swim-run) and an Open Water Swim, all under the banner of the Bonaqua Troutbeck Multisport Festival.
This year marks the third anniversary for Bonaqua still water as the official title sponsor.
Bonaqua is a Coca Cola brand bottled locally by Schweppes.