Triathlon Zimbabwe (TZ) is expecting a bigger event following an increase in the number of athletes from countries overseas who will be taking part at the 2022 Bonaqua Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Cup in Nyanga early next month.
The local triathlon body held a Press conference in Harare yesterday to launch the event, which is scheduled for April 2 at the Troutbeck resort. The Africa Triathlon Cup will run concurrently with the Junior Africa Cup, Triathlon Zimbabwe National Championships and corporate competitions while there is an Africa Junior development camp in Harare soon after the big event. This year will see the return of athletes from countries such as Germany, Japan, Austria and Slovakia to the event which had a majority of athletes from African countries at the COVID-19 affected 2021 edition held in September.
Event director Rick Fulton is hopeful that more athletes from different countries across the globe will sign up to take part in the flagship triathlon even in Zimbabwe.
“The numbers are looking good and there is a variety of countries that are being represented, which is about 10 or 11 countries represented at this stage. We are expecting a big turnout and hopefully there will be an improvement on the numbers we had last year which were impacted on by the pandemic,” Fulton said.
African countries dominated the foreign contingent at the event last year with as many as nine countries represented but it appears that there is a dip this year.
“I don’t think we are losing too many African nations. We probably haven’t got the variety that we had last year for the simple reason that Ramadan starts on the 1st of April so a lot of the north African and west African countries are Moslems. When we set the date, we were not aware of that. But be that as it may, we are looking at a good cross section of international countries coming back into the event,” he said.
However, Zimbabwe will not have any representation in the elite men category and will have only one athlete, veteran Greer Wynn in the women’ elite event.
“Sadly, we do not have any elite male representation but we have got some very good juniors coming through who are not yet ready to race at elite level. We were hoping that one male elite athlete, Matt Denslow, who is currently studying in the UK could be back in time for the event but it’s not possible.
“And the same applies with Andy Kuipers who is on our elite women’s side who is also currently studying in the United States. So the talent is there and we just hope to see them come home at some point and race at Troutbeck,” he said.
The country has a bigger representation in the Africa Triathlon Junior Cup Troutbeck with eight athletes, both male and female having already registered to participate at this stage.
TZ also introduced a new partner, EcoCash Zimbabwe in the running of the event.