ONE of the country’s major sports tourism events — the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck — has now been pencilled for September amid hopes of less stringent Covid-19 lockdown regulations later in the year across the globe.
Apart from the competitive nature of the tri-disciplined contest, the Troutbeck annual event has, over the years, been a major sports tourism fete, attracting athletes from countries that include Germany, Italy, Uzibekistan and Brazil, among others.
Under normal circumstances, the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck would have been staged early this month but the event has been delayed by six months owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a telephone interview from Harare, Triathlon Zimbabwe president Dave Ellis confirmed the development.
“Triathlon in Zimbabwe, like so many other sporting fraternities, has suffered severe setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s repercussions on both sporting events and training facilities. The Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck due to have been held this weekend at the eastern district resort was one such casualty. However, it will now be held in September this year, hopefully under less stringent conditions.
“With the lack of competitions on the international stage, the event should attract good participation from international, regional and national athletes. The multi-sport extravaganza has gathered momentum over the last few years to become a flagship Triathlon event not only in Africa but on the world circuit as well,” said Ellis.
When the pandemic first took its toll on Triathlon Zimbabwe’s operations during the latter part of the season, the association had to forgo the last few events and the SA champs event in Durban.
“This was a severe blow to the junior athlete’s who look forward to the event as it gives them the chance to compete against regional athletes in unfamiliar conditions,” said Ellis.
He said TZ has been working closely with the Sports and Recreation Commission and their international body in formulating a Covid- 19 operational model to enable athletes and spectators to once again enjoy the sport under safe conditions.
“The organisation worked closely with World Triathlon and the SRC to formulate a Covid- 19 operational model to enable athletes and spectators to once again enjoy the sport under safe conditions at the beginning of the 2020–2021 season.
“The pilot duathlon event held at Donnybrook was a resounding success and was followed up with the resumption of activities at the Mount Pleasant pool with a comprehensive system which corralled athletes, spectators and officials into separate pods at the pool, thereby negating crowding and subsequent transmission of the disease. The latest return of the lockdown measures has put competitions and training on hold. However we are engaging SRC and the City of Harare and we hope to return to training and competition as the season draws to a close in April.
“The plan during the off-season is to carry on utilising heated pool facilities and hosting duathlon events where the swim section of the competition is replaced by a run — bike — run format and prepare for an exciting new season in September,” said Ellis.