Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
AT least six youth triathletes have so far earned the required points to compete at the South African Championships pencilled for next month.
Rohnan Nicholson, Callum Smith and Zachary Summers qualified in the boys Under-15 while Anje Van As, Nicole Madya and Tayleigh Taylor made it into the girls section for the same age-group.
Nicholson and Van As qualified earlier than their counterparts.
The other four qualified during last Sunday’s selection race number four for the youth at Mount Pleasant.
National coach, Pamela Fulton, confirmed the four reached the required points during the event.
On Sunday, she had confirmed Madya before confirming the other three – Taylor, Smith and Summers – following the release of all the results.
There is still hope for more athletes to qualify at the fifth selection race to be held before the end of this month.
“After the last race, Nicole (Madya) and Tayleigh Taylor have earned the required number of points in the girls Under-15 category. Callum Smith and Zachary Summers in the boys Under-15.”
The championships are scheduled for February 13.
Zimbabwe are also hoping to have representatives at the juniors’ event in March as the championships in the neighbouring country also serve as a platform for qualification to the African Championships in September, in Morocco.
Those that fail to qualify in South Africa, will have another chance at the Troutbeck event scheduled for April.
“To qualify for African Championships it comes down to the results from the South African Championships and then the athletes have a second possibility of qualifying and that will be at Troutbeck.
“So we will know after the South Africa Championships if we have got anyone qualifying then and I think it’s going to be really hard to qualify because I think the Under-19 category is very very competitive in South Africa.
“The second option being in Troutbeck, we are still waiting to find out whether we have any international athletes coming to race at our Troutbeck event.
And if we do have the international athletes in the Under-19 category, then it makes it challenging again.
“But our athletes are strong, so I do believe that we will be getting some qualifying to race in the Under-19 Africa Championships and also in the youth – Under-17 and Under-15,” said Fulton.
With the continental showpiece in September, for Zimbabwe it means the national association has to put in place some mechanisms to help athletes prepare since the local season usually runs from September to April.
“Our athletes are going to have to train throughout the winter to then be peaking in September, which is normally the beginning of our next season. It’s not ideal for our athletes because we don’t have races during our off-season.
“But we are going to try and have some duathlons, so that’s (for the) run and bike, to help our athletes maintain their fitness levels and there are quite a few more heated pools in Zimbabwe now than they used to be.
“So all our athletes do have individual coaches, some they have come from different clubs and so different coaches will have different heated pools that they have access to.
“So hopefully our athletes will be able to have access to these heated pools to be able to be stronger and fit and get prepared for the African Championships later in the year,” Fulton said.