MBDA and city help promising candidates in World Champs qualifying bid
Six previously disadvantaged athletes had an opportunity to train with leading Port Elizabeth triathlete Kyle Buckingham yesterday as they bid to get in shape for next year’s Ironman World Championships taking place in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The Mandela Bay Development Agency, in consultation with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s sports, arts and culture division, recently advertised six Ironman South Africa slots for top-performing, previously disadvantaged triathletes.
Labelled the NMB Triathlon Stars, the six are Vukile Makeleni, Siyabulela Mpengesi, Peter Gatanga’l, Faisal Ackerdien, Madoda Bambalaza and Thembile Nxele.
Yesterday’s session, which started at the Shark Rock Pier in Summerstrand at 6.30am, included a 1km swim, 52km of cycling and a 6km run.
According to MBDA marketing and communications manager Luvuyo Bangazi, the aim of the initiative is to assist previously disadvantaged athletes to qualify for the World Championships next year.
“Ironman is predominantly non-black and we are trying to get as many athletes of colour to participate,” Bangazi said.
“You have to qualify for the race in 2018, you cannot just pay and enter. So Kyle is helping them to get there eventually.
“We have entered the athletes for Ironman Africa here in PE. They had to first submit their race times from 2016.
“These are the best of the best previously disadvantaged guys who finished last year, both in Ironman Africa and the 5150.
“We took the best times and identified the six athletes. These are the guys who are being helped by Kyle, who is a professional but was once an amateur like them.
“Hopefully, he will inspire and motivate them to eventually get to where he is.”
Ironman Lake Placid winner Buckingham applauded the programme.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for these athletes, because I think there is hope.