Kuipers carries Zim hopes at Troutbeck Africa Cup

US-based Zimbabwe triathlete Andie Kuipers poses for a picture with Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry at the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup press briefing at Holiday Inn on Wednesday.

ZIMBABWEAN triathlete Andie Kuipers is set to carry the country’s hopes in the women Elite class at the 16th edition of the Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Cup, which will be held in Nyanga next week.

The Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup will be staged on February 17.

The 21-year-old US-based triathlon star will be making a first appearance at the Troutbeck event in four years and has had to defer her studies at Wingate University where she is studying psychology as she bids for 2024 Paris Olympics qualifications.

Kuipers is one of the 10 athletes, who received the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Solidarity Scholarship from the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) to assist her in preparations for the Olympics.

It would be the first time that Zimbabwe has representation in the Elite women class since 2022 when veteran triathlete Greer Wynn competed.

“It’s been four years since I raced at Troutbeck. One of the reasons I deferred my semester from University was to come and do Troutbeck and I also have a few commitments and races to do in terms of qualifying for the (Paris) Olympic Games. I am really excited to be here,” Kuipers said at the Triathlon Zimbabwe press briefing in Harare on Wednesday. 

Kuipers will line up against five other women from five different countries, namely Algeria, Ireland, Romania, Japan and the Netherlands.

However, the country will not have representation in the elite men class where eight athletes from four different countries have entered the competition including 2022 winner Ayan Beisenbayev from Kazakhstan.

This edition of the event sees a drastic fall in the number of entrants dropping drastically due to the cholera epidemic, which has hit the country in recent months.

According to tournament director Rick Fulton, a number of international athletes have had to pull out from the event for safety reasons, even choosing to forego the Olympics points that would come with participating at Troutbeck.

 At least 30 athletes for both the elites and juniors from across the world have registered to compete, a huge slump from the 51 that took part in last year’s edition.

“Unfortunately, the level of numbers of elite athletes that we were hoping to attract given we are within the Olympic qualification period has not worked,” Fulton said.

TZ president Ross O`Donoghue paid tribute to the sponsors, who have come on board to support the event making special reference to newcomers  MCM Legal.

“Am thankful to our sponsors who have walked with us through thick and thin. Bonaqua, the title sponsor, Cimas’ iGo, CFAO, Rooney’s Events, African Sun, Troutbeck Resort, Ecocash, Simbisa, your support has been immense.

“As a body we have continued to grow and we are delighted that our sponsors’ catalogue grows with us, this year I would like to announce and welcome the arrival of MCM Legal to the sponsors’ basket. We sincerely hope that they will enjoy the experience and the partnership for this event.

“We would like to thank MCM Legal and the entire sponsor group for their support and commitment to this high profile event,” he said.

Elite athletes competing in the event will get world ranking points for the International Triathlon Union (ITU) ranking system. This means that the points scored by athletes will ultimately become Olympic Ranking Qualification points.

Troutbeck is well known as one of the world’s best resorts for triathlon sports and is a tourism hub with safe, clean, disease and animal-free water, good roads within perfect terrain as well as a friendly climatic environment.

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