TZ continues to grow Bonaqua Africa Cup and Multisport Festival

From left : Event Director Rick Fulton, Andie Kuipers, Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry and Triathlon Zimbabwe vice president Pamela

Triathlon Zimbabwe (TZ) has expressed satisfaction at the growth of the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup and Multisport festival after adding trail running to the list of competitions set for the international event which takes at Troutbeck resort in Nyanga next week.

This is in spite of the fact that the number of international athletes taking part in the event has been affected by the recent cholera outbreak that the country and the region are facing.

At least 15 countries will be represented at the 16th edition of the annual multi-sport event in the elite and junior Cup competitions while the event is targeting 300 local triathlon enthusiasts to be part of the festival.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday in Harare last week, event director Rick Fulton said the aim was always to see the continued growth of the flagship triathlon event.

“This has been a major thrust for us over the years to develop this event from a stand-alone elite and junior Cup event for triathlon. We have developed it and added events, which include the corporate challenge, duathlon, aquathlon, off-road triathlon, mountain biking and for the first time this year we have introduced trail running which is obviously a fast- moving sport in Zimbabwe and very popular. We have the most ideal conditions for mountain biking and trail running so this is an added fixture on to our schedule,” Fulton said.

“We are constantly looking to improve the event and make it bigger and better, more importantly making it more appealing for our loyal sponsors. Unfortunately, the level of numbers of elite athletes that we were hoping to attract given where we are within the Olympic qualifications period has not worked.

“The major fallback for this has been the cholera epidemic in the region not just here. We have had athletes enter the race and take themselves out because of a cholera scare which is unfortunate. We have obviously tried to be positive about it with statements on World triathlon websites, but unfortunately it hasn't had an impact on athlete entries.

“However, I am very pleased to announce that we will have athletes from Austria, Algeria, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mauritius, Netherlands, Namibia, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia, the UAE, and obviously Zimbabwe both at elite and junior level.

“We will have a total of 30 elite and junior athletes which is less than last year but still I think given the conditions we have had in the region it's good return and our local content in entries is really picking up we hope to get 300 total this year,” he said.

Zimbabwe will have representation in the elite women class after US-based Andie Kuipers chose to defer her university studies as she pursues Paris Olympics qualification.

The MCM Legal joins the list of sponsors for the event which include Bonaqua, the title sponsor, Cimas’ iGo, CFAO, Rooney’s Events, African Sun, Troutbeck Resort, Ecocash and Simbisa.

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