'Get blacks in triathlon'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Gideon Sam, Triathlon South Africa president, has expressed concern over lack of transformation and the non-existence of black athletes taking part in triathlon sports.

Speaking in Durban yesterday during the launch of the coming Triathlon World Cup, to be staged in Richards Bay next month, Sam said it was heart-breaking that no black athletes was taking part in the sport. The African leg of the BG Triathlon World Cup takes place on Sunday, May 13.

This is the second time that the city of uMhlathuze hosts the prestigious event, which is the Olympic qualifier. Last year, the city hosted the first leg of the three-leg tournament. This year's competition will be preceded by the All-Africa Sprint Triathlon Championships on the same venue on Saturday.

Sam said after realising that no black athletes were coming up to take part, they teamed up with Swimming South Africa to assist them.

"All we are looking for is for them to encourage and actually divert all the swimming athletes to take part in cycling because black people don't cycle.

"Ours is to ensure that blacks are an integral part of the whole unity, transformation, development in this sporting code," said Sam.

He said South African athletes always do better in endurance sports, but have always had not been well-resourced, as a result perform poorly in most cases.

Athletes have to swim in a 1, 5 open water, cycle for 40 kilometres and run for 10 km.

Sipho Zulu, of the uMhlathuze municipality, said the event could not have come at a better time because the country is preparing to hold the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

He said South Africa is in the forefront of the world and this means that the country has to do better in every event they host.

Casper Kriel, the event's director, said only 85 world-ranked international athletes in both male and females categories would take part, with the winners qualifying for 2008 Olympics.

The overall winner will pocket $100 000 (about R700 000).