Triathlon Zimbabwe finds Felgate's heir

HARARE - Zimbabwe's hunt for an elite triathlete is finally over with the emergence of former Triathlon Zimbabwe (TZ) junior champion Gideon Benade.

Since Chris Felgate’s retirement six years ago, the country has not had a representative in the elite men’s category in regional and international events.

However, Benade has raised his hand up and will represent Zimbabwe at the Bonaqua Troutbeck African Triathlon Union meet in Nyanga on February 17 and 18.

Former TZ junior women champion Laurelle Brown once gave a hint that she would want to go the elite route but her studies in the United Kingdom blocked her immediate return.

TZ president Rick Fulton said he is excited with the decision taken by Benade to compete as the first elite male athlete for the first time in six years after Felgate.

“We are extremely proud of Benade and his progress, he came through our junior ranks; we all know what an icon Felgate was and Gideon will have some big shoes to fill but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will be able to last the distance,” Fulton told reporters at a press conference in Harare yesterday.

Benade, who is not new to the Troutbeck route having started off his junior triathlon bid at this course, said he is willing to learn and see how it goes in this new category with an intention to launch his serious bid in the next event.

“My role model...Felgate did this in two Olympics so I’m here to follow in his footsteps and do better if possible,” he said.

“The first triathlon race that I did was at Troutbeck and I really enjoyed it and from there on I have done a number of races on this course.

“This year it will be my first time in the elite race so I will be looking forward to learn how to race at such a bigger platform in preparation for next year and the coming events.”

Coca-Cola senior manager Vee Sibanda, whose company are the title sponsors of the event through their bottled water brand Bonaqua, said: “We are playing our part in developing sports in the country through sponsorships of triathlon and other sports initiatives such as Copa Coca-Cola that we bankroll...we are pleased that the
Bonaqua Troutbeck contributing positively towards the development of sports tourism in Zimbabwe by attracting regional, continental and global athletes.”

Previously, Coca-Cola used to bankroll the race through their Schweppes brand before rebranding it.

Schweppes marketing and public affairs director Unaiswi Nyikadzino said there is a perfect fit between sport and water hence the reason behind the rebranding.

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