BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Triathlon Zimbabwe has revealed that the Troutbeck Bonaqua Triathlon Africa Cup, traditionally held in February and was this year moved to September due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will mark the beginning of preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Zimbabwe will not have a representative for the triathlon at the Olympics for the second time in a row in Tokyo later this month after failing to produce an Olympic athlete for Rio global games.
The rescheduled Olympic Games are set to run from July 23 to August 8 this year and Zimbabwe will be sending a small team to the event.
Golfer Scott Vincent leads a team that also includes sprinter Ngoni Makusha, rower Peter Purcell-Gilpin and the swimming duo of Donata Katai and Peter Wetzlar.
“One of the questions I have been asked is why we are holding the Africa Cup after the Olympics but the idea is that after every Olympic Games we begin to look for new blood,” Bonaqua Triathlon Africa Cup event director Rick Fulton told journalists during an online media workshop for the annual competition.
“There is plenty of new blood coming in and they are already eager to start earning points for future international events including the next Olympics,” he added.
Christopher Felgate in 2008 and 2012, as well as Mark Marabini in 2000, are the only triathletes to have represented the country at the Olympic Games.
ZOC chief executive officer Stephen Mudawarima who was also a special guest at the online workshop expressed confidence that TZ will nurture Olympic athletes in time for Paris 2024.
“My encouragement to Triathlon Zimbabwe is that let’s have long-term athletes development strategies and have all the sponsors invest in the athletes. It requires a million dollars to uncover and nurture a single Olympics standard athlete.
“We have a very good working relationship with Triathlon Zimbabwe. I can guarantee that they will provide at least an athlete at Paris 2024 and probably have a top five finisher at the 2028 Olympics,” Mudawarima said.
The workshop was a resounding success attracting close to 50 media practitioners.
Also making a presentation during the workshop was TZ president Dave Ellis and representatives from key sponsors, namely Bonaqua, Toyota Zimbabwe, Bon Marche, Rooney’s and Cimas.
The 14th edition of the continental event could still suffer the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic with the recent surge in cases in the country.
However, TZ are confident that they have the capacity to stage the event in a safe environment for athletes and staff come September 25.