The Sunday Mail
THERE has been a drop in the number of athletes who will take part in this year’s edition of the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup in Nyanga, which is unexpected, especially in view of the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
However, the cholera outbreak across the region has forced some athletes to withdraw.
In the elite and junior levels, only 30 athletes have confirmed participation, down from 51 last year.
The multi-sport festival, which has been pencilled in for February 17, will also see the Africa Junior Cup taking place.
This year, the organisers have also introduced a trial run.
Event director Rick Fulton said they initially thought the event would attract more athletes.
“The number of elite athletes we were hoping to attract has not worked, especially for an event that would assist athletes to amass points towards qualification to the Olympics,” he said.
“The major fall back for this has been the cholera epidemic in the region . . . We have had a lot of athletes enter the race and then take themselves out because of the cholera scare.”
Despite the setback, the event will attract competitors from Austria, Algeria, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mauritius, Netherlands, Namibia, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and hosts Zimbabwe.
However, Zimbabweans have something to smile about as this year’s competition will see the return of elite athlete Andie Kuipers.
Since the retirement of veteran Greer Wynn in 2022, the country has not had a representative at the elite level.
“It has been four years since the last time I raced at Troutbeck and one of the reasons I deferred my semester from university was to come and do Troutbeck,” she said.
“I have got a few more commitments and races to do towards qualifying for the Games (Olympics) and this is one of the best platforms. I look forward to the best.”
Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry, who was the guest of honour at the launch, paid tribute to event organisers and participants.
“This event started as a concept in 2007 and there were four events around Africa. There are now 15 African Cups, so the sport is growing,” she said.