Mandela Bay train athletes for Ironman

2017-03-22 06:03
The athletes who are being trained for the Ironman Africa championships in Port Elizabeth. From left are Peter Gatangi, Jabu Mpengesi, Madoda Bambaloza, Kyle Buckingham (professional athlete) Luvuyo Bangazi, spokesperson of the MBDA, Thembile Nxele and Faisal Ackerdien.Photo: WERNER HILLS

The athletes who are being trained for the Ironman Africa championships in Port Elizabeth. From left are Peter Gatangi, Jabu Mpengesi, Madoda Bambaloza, Kyle Buckingham (professional athlete) Luvuyo Bangazi, spokesperson of the MBDA, Thembile Nxele and Faisal Ackerdien.Photo: WERNER HILLS

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A GROUP of disadvantaged athletes have, over the last year, seen the sun rise and set almost every day while training for the Ironman Africa championship.

“We get out of bed before sunrise, go to work and after work train again until after the sun sets,” said Madoda Bambaloza, one of the athletes.

They will be participating on April 2 in this gruelling championship in Port Elizabeth with more than 2000 athletes from around the world.

Ironman participants swim 3.8 km in the sea, cycle for 180.2 km and run 42.2 km.

Luvuyo Bangazi, spokesman for the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), said the athletes were selected on the basis of their performance in the 2016 Ironman Africa Championships and the 5150 triathlon challenge. They were taken under the wing of the MBDA and the municipal sports department.

“The idea is to help athletes who show true potential, by holding training camps and possibly developing them into professional athletes. We hope to have as many local athletes as possible, especially previously disadvantaged athletes, qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth in 2018. The Ironman 70.3 is a half Ironman event.

The world championship is held in a different country every year.

Jabu Mpengesi, one of the athletes, said he is already working hard to qualify for next year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“I give it my all, and I can feel myself improving, especially with the help and coaching from someone like Kyle Buckingham.”

Buckingham, who obtained second place in the Ironman in 2014, says he can already see how these athletes will be kicking up dust in the eyes of some of the professional athletes.

“This initiative is great because it gives the athletes a real chance to develop their talents and to make the country proud.”

Buckingham will also be participating in the Ironman Africa championship on April 2 and he hopes to reach the finish line in less than 8 hours and 30 minutes.

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