TOP Turkish triathlete Jonas Schomburg headlines a strong field of male elite athletes set to battle for top honours during the 2017 Bonaqua Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Union (ATU) African Cup in the Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga on Saturday. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 23-year-old, who finished seventh at the same event last year, is one of the eight male elite triathletes who have confirmed their participation in this weekend’s event, which will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary as an International Triathlon Union (ITU)-sanctioned event.
Schomburg will be joined in the field by South Africans Dylan Nortje, Keegan Cooke and Jacobus Kruger, who will all be aiming to continue their country’s dominance of the annual competition.
The other participants in the elite men’s field for the Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU African Cup include Linus Stimmel from Germany, Namibian Jean-Paul Burger and the Japanese duo of Takumi Higo and Ren Sato.
Schomburg, who previously represented Germany before his recent nationality switch, is the in-form man heading into this weekend’s showdown after managing an impressive second finish at the 2017 Free State ATU Triathlon African Cup in Aldam Resort, Free State, two weeks ago.
The fast-rising triathlete will use the Troutbeck event — which was won by South African triathlete Basson Engelbrecht last year — to prepare for the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast to be held in Australia next month.
The women’s elite field, according to the entries released on the ITU’s official website, is expected to be equally strong with six athletes having confirmed their participation.
In the absence of last year’s winner Fabienne St Louis from Mauritius, Cindy Schwulst, who finished second last year, headlines the field which is dominated by Japanese and South African triathletes.
Triathlon Zimbabwe Association president Rick Fulton said although the men’s field comprised mainly of young and upcoming triathletes, he still anticipated top-notch competition for the coveted title.
“They are all young and upcoming athletes because this is the start of a new four-year Olympic cycle so this is the new breed of guys who are hoping to ultimately qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. While most of them might be young athletes, they’re still pretty strong competitors and we are expecting some quality competition,” Fulton said.
Fulton said they were expecting more participants in the junior age group categories and the Troutbeck Mile Open Water Swim which run concurrently with the triathlon event.
“We’re hoping we will have at least 200 entries for all of the events on the day, which include both the triathlon and the Open Water Swim. Obviously we will only know the local content when the entries close on Friday [tomorrow], but we’re confident of reaching the 200 mark,” he said.
Other categories that will be contested at the championships include the elite Under-23 men and women, adult age groups from 20 to 65 years, both over the standard distance, and the Junior Under-17 and Under-19 age groups.