Historic Bonaqua Africa Cup beckons

HARARE - The build-up to the 10th Anniversary of the annual Troutbeck Triathlon African Cup event scheduled for Nyanga next week took off with a tripartite workshop involving the owners of the sport, the media and the sponsors at a local hotel in Harare this week.

The historic race now dubbed the 2017 Bonaqua Troutbeck ATU Triathlon African Cup is set for the international Troutbeck Resort course on April 1.

The star attraction will be the Elite race for both men and women where athletes from Japan, South Africa and Namibia are expected to participate in the 1 500m swim, the 40km cycle and the 10km run.

The event will also serve as the Zimbabwe National Championships where the hosts will parade their finest emerging talent comprising of the Youth (Under 13/U15) and the Juniors (U17/U19).

To add a bit of international flavour to the championships, an invitational junior team from South African is also earmarked to go through their paces in preparations for the continental race set for Tunisia in May.

The workshop started with a presentation by Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (Zoc) president Admire Masenda, who emphasised the need for the three partners to work together in the development of triathlon and sport in general in the country.

Triathlon Zimbabwe (TZ) president Rick Fulton, who was the main presenter, bemoaned the loss of talent from university level going upwards but remained hopeful that through their partnership with Coca Cola development on the ground will improve.

“Obviously, development for us is a critical area; we have a very proactive and sound development system going on with the junior athletes up to university level and like every other sport in the country, we are suffering from the drain of good talent going out of the country,” Fulton said.

“We have heard a lot on the requirement of the resurgence of sport in our country and I’m afraid resources need to be made available. It is something that none of us can hide away from and our sport is no different and obviously for us our relationship with Coca-Cola and Schweppes is a key part of that.

“And I would like to think going forward as our partnership develops we would be able to invest some sort of time and money (that is) if the environment in the economy is conducive . . . I would like to see investment going forward that will help us grow the sport outside of where we are at the moment.”

Coca-Cola Zimbabwe marketing and activations manager Vee Chibanda said their initial involvement with TZ in last year’s African Cup inspired them to return with vigour.

“...Last season’s ATU Triathlon sponsorship proved to be a great one, and it left us with a hunger for more and we are here this year with our Bonaqua water, water by design brand, as the Title sponsor,” Chibanda said.

“...Triathlon is not a cheap sport- especially for the majority of our people. And so, as one of triathlon’s greatest supporters, we want you to be a part of the team. We need your help . . . we need each other to work towards the success of our team and to ensure the improvement of our sport so as to attract more athletes and interest in Triathlon as a whole.”

Schweppes marketing and public affairs director Unaiswi Nyikadzino, said the decision to partner TZ was an easy considering the passion and dedication of the whole team from the administrators to the athletes.

“As corporates, those are the kind of partners that we looking for, when you are supporting an event you want your brand to be associated with people that are passionate about what they are doing, people that are knowledgeable about what they are doing, people that are focused on what they are doing in supporting their development you find they are doing this on shoe-string budget,” Nyikadzino said.

“As corporates we are also struggling we don’t have huge budgets to put into a lot of these sponsorship packages.

“So we know that whatever that it is we are putting in is well managed  . . . TZ has a very good governance structure so we do, most of them they do it out of passion it’s not about money.  We are privileged to have a sport that is not as well developed as it should be but there’s so much potential.”