BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE will for the first time be represented in the men and women’s elite categories of the Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup following the confirmation of local teenage sensation Matthew Denslow in the elite men’s field ahead of this year’s prestigious race set for February 22 at Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga.
Initially, Laurelle Brown was expected to be the only Zimbabwean triathlete to feature in the elite category after confirming her participation in the elite women’s race, with Denslow (19) poised to defend his title in the Bonaqua ATU Junior African Cup.
Last year, Denslow underlined his massive potential after winning a gold medal in the junior men’s race of the inaugural Bonaqua ATU Junior African Cup which ran concurrently with the 2019 Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup.
Triathlon Zimbabwe events manager Rick Fulton, however, confirmed yesterday that Denslow had decided to take the step up by lining up among the elite male competitors which he believes is a major boost for local triathlon.
“Yes, I can confirm that Matthew Denslow will participate in the elite men category Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup,” Fulton told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday.
“A couple of weeks ago, he made his elite debut in South Africa and did very well, so he decided to enter the elite category for the Troutbeck event. This is a very exciting development for local triathlon. Remember, we already have Laurelle Brown in the elite women’s race which is a first for Zimbabwe.”
Denslow, a former pupil at Hellenic Academy in the capital, made his elite debut at the 2020 Maselspoort ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where he finished 22nd out of 27 competitors in a race won by Max Studer from Switzerland.
The young Zimbabwean, who is ranked fourth on the International Triathlon Union (ITU)’s junior continental rankings, is one of the nine triathletes who have so far been confirmed in the field for the elite men race for the Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup.
Neighbours South Africa have the highest number of participants, with the quartet of Cameron MacNair, Jamie Riddle, Matthew Gree and Ben De La Porte all expected to feature in the race.
The other participants, who had entered the race by yesterday, include Timothee Hugnin from Mauritius, Russian Dmitry Polyanskiy, Danilo Pimentel from Brazil and Syria’s Mohamad Alsabbagh.
The elite women’s race so far features local favourite Brown, Shanae Williams from South Africa, Russia’s Anastasia Abrosimova and Tunisian Ons Lajili.
Besides the men and women’s elite races, a number of activities are lined up for this year’s Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Triathlon African Cup.
These include the ATU Junior Triathlon African Cup, the Zimbabwe National Triathlon championships, Off-Road triathlon, Bonaqua Corporate Team Challenge Super-sprint distance, Troutbeck Trikidz, for six to eight-year-olds, and Aquathlon (run-swim-run), among other competitions.
For the first time, the Zimbabwe Aquatic Union will use the traditional open water swim at their Open Water National Championships under the auspices of the Bonaqua ATU Troutbeck Sprint Triathlon African Cup.