Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
TRIATHLON Zimbabwe president Rick Fulton is eagerly awaiting the start of the Youth Olympic Games in October as the sporting extravaganza presents young athletes with the opportunity to compete at the highest level. TZ already have their potential candidates for the Games in place and are hoping the several local and regional events they will stage will be helpful in getting the athletes ready for qualification to the Games.
Some of the athletes in their plans are Matthew Denslow, Marcel Paulser, Andie Kuipers and Mikayla Colegrave. Fulton said although the country has not been consistent at the elite level, there is still some positives coming from the youth and are doing all they can to have their athletes qualify for the African Youth Games with the ultimate goal being qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games.
“It’s a big year for triathlon, world triathlon. I mean 2016 was the Olympic Games, but now 2018 is the chance of the Youth Olympic Games. So two years between each Olympic Games comes around quite quickly.
“But for us it’s quite important because we obviously have a better chance of the athletes participating in the African Youth Games and then onwards to the Youth Olympic Games than we do at elite level athletes.
“We are a very small federation in global terms, so to compete elite-wise we haven’t had anyone really since the days of Chris Felgate competing consistently at elite level,” said Fulton.
Each National Olympic Committee can qualify a maximum of two athletes — that is one in the Boys’ section and one in the Girls. Those that qualify will make a team to represent Africa at the Youth Olympics.
“So our kids first and foremost they got to get to the African Youth Games. Then they got to qualify at that one-off event as part of the African Youth Games to then get qualification to Team Africa for the Youth Olympic Games.
“But all we can do is hope that they have a good race on the day and they can do well. The interesting thing is that they restrict representation from each national federation to one athlete (for each section),” Fulton said.
Some of the events they are looking at as build-up to the Games include the Bonaqua Troutbeck-ATU African Cup next month and the national championships which run alongside the African Cup.
There is also the South African Championships in March and the African Championships in Rabat, Morocco in April.
Most of the athletes said they are looking forward to qualifying for the Games with Kuipers, saying she is satisfied with the way things are going so far.
“It’s been really good so far. Everything is going on really well I have got the points I need to qualify for the South Africa Championships. So from South Africa Championships I am planning to do a few races in maybe South Africa and then hopefully qualify in July (at the African Games) for Youth Olympic Games,” said Kuipers.