HARARE – Triathlon Zimbabwe (TZ), just like many sporting codes in the country, has been hit by severe talent-drain with many promising athletes relocating overseas in pursuit of better university education.BY AUSTIN KARONGA
This weekend, TZ hosts the Troutbeck ATU Triathlon African Cup at the Nyanga resort but sadly, as they have become used to in the past four years, there will be no locals participating in the main Elite category.
The last elite athlete Zimbabwe had was Chris Felgate, a veteran of two Olympics who retired in 2012, and since then TZ has struggled to identify talent that could stick around for a while for a professional triathlon career.
Promising triathlete Laurelle Brown took up studies with England’s Bournemouth University.
Prior to her departure for England, the former Peterhouse student had been cited as the heir apparent to Felgate.
The 2012/2013 Junior Sportswoman of the Year however, recently confirmed her plans of coming back to compete as a professional triathlete but for now TZ will have to watch as the $3 000 prize goes without a fight.
TZ president Rick Fulton said he was happy with the amount of young triathletes coming through but admitted it would be hard to retain their services once they finish high school.
“The preparations are going on smoothly despite these last-minute rushes, we will be leaving for Troutbeck on Wednesday (tomorrow) for the setup,” Fulton told the Daily News yesterday.
“We have a strong list of elite athletes coming from all over; talk of South Africa, Namibia, Luxembourg, Turkey and Germany among others.
“Fifteen men and four women are expected to battle it out in the elites but it’s a pity we don’t have any local athletes competing in this category.”
Fulton added: “First, we lose them out of the country and then out of the sport. It’s not unique to triathlon alone but something that is affecting Zimbabwean sport across the board.
“We have got the talent but it’s a question of what they want to be. Yes, we have seen a lot of her (Brown) she makes contact whenever she comes back home and has said she wants to come back so we will wait and see what happens in a couple of years. The good thing is that she’s doing a lot of triathlon but on a recreation basis.”
Fulton, however, tipped Zimbabwe’s top junior man athlete Drew Williams to spearhead the country’s return to the Elite category.
Williams participated at the world junior championships held in September last year in Chigago, USA together with Rebecca Duncan.
“Getting athletes between the ages of 25-30 is proving difficult but Drew Williams want to do it. We hope that he will get enough funding to go through his world championships which will help him towards an Olympics journey,” he said.