ITU Sport Development Team visit Africa
On March 30 the ITU Sport development team descended on Midmar Dam, South Africa for the African Triathlon Championships and our first development project. Located 85km west of Durban, the race venue boasted a panorama of rolling hills and quiet bungalows.
After an adventurous Thursday searching for Internet services, and finalizing Power Point presentations the team was finally ready for the workshop Friday morning. Representatives from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa attended the workshop to learn about ITU sport development : goals and objectives of the team; event production, officiating, coaching, and athlete training.
The team also met with individual NF’s (National Federations) to research the specific needs of each country. Challenges abound, but so do passion, dedication, and commitment to building this incredible sport. The day ended with lively discussions and the beginning of valuable friendships between ITU and the African triathlon family.
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All the sunscreen that we carefully packed…. is still carefully packed! Instead, Autumn fog, wild winds, and the rains of Africa came pelting down.
An enthusiastic crew of age-group athletes braved the Midmar waters at 6:30 am in wind, but relatively bright skies. Following at 10 and 11am were the Junior events; 12-15 yrs and 16-19 yrs respectively. An extraordinary swim-cycle landed a gold medal for Pieter Seyffert (South Africa) in the 16-19 male category. Jennifer Henrissoon (Mauritius) pulled a stellar run out of her hat to win the 16-19 female division.
As the hours crept by, the weather continued to deteriorate. Spectators huddled undercover as the Elite and U-23 fields warmed up.
Victory in the female division was awarded to Mari Rabie from South Africa. After a strong swim and cycle, she blazed the fastest trail to the finish on a hilly run course.
The final event of the day was staged in full-blown stormy conditions. High
waters and higher winds caused several athletes to end their day early. But
persevering with a gazelle-like stride was eventual Elite men’s winner Tim Don
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Future Trail Blazing
With two days remaining, the development team will wrap up this journey with a coaching clinic and athlete seminar followed by meetings about future projects. The anticipation has changed to excitement as we leave with new friends, new members of the ITU Triathlon family, 300+ photos, and even more memories.
For a first Pilot of the ITU Sport Development Team, this African adventure
uncovered a wealth of roads down which we will help Africa trailblaze into the
future. Perhaps most importantly, we met the people who are already blazing
these trails. We just provided some extra fuel for their torches.