There has been a marked increase in the number of junior elite athletes competing in the 15th edition of the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup which takes place at the Troutbeck Resort on Saturday.
As many as 15 athletes from South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe have registered to take part in junior elite class while junior elite women category has a 12 member start list from the four African countries.
The event recorded a low turnout last year due to travel restriction precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic where there 12 and six athletes in the junior elite men and women class respectively.
One of the country’s top female junior athletes Makanaka Mawere, who will be making her third start list for the event in three years is favourite to win the junior elite race following her bronze medal finish last year.
However, Mawere who is ranked eighth on the continent had a disappointing run up to the Troutbeck event after she finished ninth at the Africa in South Africa two weeks ago.
She is one of the five Zimbabweans making the start list in the category alongside Emma Lidsba, Inkosinomusa Mthethwa, Jessica Fuller and Brooklyn Tippett.
There are also four male junior elite athletes who will be hoisting the country’s flag at Troutbeck namely Duwan Botha, Matipa Mawere, Mandlenkosi Mthethwa and George Ascott.
Event director Rick Fulton is pleased with the number of junior athletes who will participate at the Troutbeck event.
“The platform gives us the opportunity to showcase our sport as an association. We are particularly pleased with the high number of young athletes taking part this time around. The event is also good for the youngsters who can also come and participate in the event and be inspired by the top international athletes who will be present at this event,” Fulton.
Zimbabwe will not be fielding any athlete in the elite men class for the second year running but the field looks strong with athletes line tournament favourite Jamie Riddle from South Africa, Meirlan Iskakov from Kazakhstan and South African Dylan Nortje, among others.
Veteran athlete Greer Wynn is the only Zimbabwean athlete in the elite women category among competitors from Slovakia, Japan, South Africa and Mauritius.
South African Hannah Newman is back to defend the title she won last year.
Fulton expressed delight with the coming on board of Ecocash Zimbabwe as one of the sponsors for the event.
“We are delighted to have Ecocash Zimbabwe join our sponsor group this time around. It is always good for the event as well as triathlon in the country to have corporates choosing to be associated with you.
“We are grateful to all our sponsors for being part of this event because an event of this magnitude involves a lot of financial support and it would not be possible without them. We hope we will also be able to give back to our sponsor in terms of the publicity associated with the Africa Triathlon Cup but ultimately we will be able to keep them for a long time to come,” he said.
Other sponsors include Coca-Cola Africa are the title sponsors of the event through their Bonaqua bottled water brand while Cimas i-Go, Rooneys Event Infrastructure, Toyota Zimbabwe, African Sun Hotels and Troutbeck Inn Resort are key partners.