By Merryn Sherwood on 31/08/11 at 7:27 am
Triathlon in Africa rises to a new level this weekend, as the sport makes its All Africa Games debut in Maputo, Mozambique. The All Africa Games is a major continental multi-sport event, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee, held every four years. The first Games were in 1965 in Brazzaville, Congo and the 2011 edition includes 20 different sports.
But this year is the first that triathlon is on the programme and African triathlon federations have turned out to support it, with athletes from Mauritius, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique. And that last entry is particularly special as hosts Mozambique are also the newest Federation in Africa, União Moçambicana de Triatlo (UMT). But even though they are just six weeks old, they have four athletes preparing for the All Africa Games triathlon.
Elite Women’s Preview
Mauritius’ Fabienne Aline St Louis has been competed on the ITU circuit since 2006, when she debuted in the junior women’s category at the ITU World Championships, but in the past few years has really stamped her name as an elite women’s contender. The 2011 ITU Development squad member won the Under23 African championship this year, won two African Cup events in 2010 and finished 26th in the Lausanne round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event just a few weeks ago.
Those who will be chasing her include Carolyn Fischer, who finished second in the U23 African titles earlier this year, as well as her South African teammates Lauren Dance and Andrea Steyn. Steyn is the current age-group world champion in the 25 to 29 category, an African Cup winner, an African champion, and also finished top 10 at last year’s ITU Duathlon World Championships. Then there is current African junior women’s champion Laurelle Brown, Shannon Wilson and Pamela Fulton from Zimbabwe, Aloa Ashraf Elsafty from Egypt and Hanif Said from Kenya.
Elite Men’s Preview
The men’s field offers up plenty of candidates with elite ITU experience, but what’s even more exciting is the new talent on display. A total of 20 men from nine different national federations will compete in the men’s race, including Ivan Do Rosario, Edelson Remane and Iassine Selemane from the brand new Mozambique federation. Also represented is Kenya, a nation always known for their athletics prowess - one of their qualifying events was in Eldoret where legendary Kenyan runner Kip Keino has built an orphanage, school and elite training facilities - but now gets to show their stuff in multisport.
Those who have already competed on the ITU circuit are Beijing Olympian Christopher Felgate, two-time African champion Erhard Wolfaardt, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games competitor Chistopher Symonds (GHA), two-time junior men’s African champion Wian Sullward and current African men’s Under23 champion Abrahm Louw (NAM), who finished 5th at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games last year. Louw has made the jump to the elite level this year, finished second in his first Olympic distance race, an Asian Cup event in Singapore before going on to finish 39th in the Tiszjavarous World Cup and 34th in Lausanne. But those results don’t accurately depict that through both swim and bike legs, he was with the leaders almost the entire way, it was just the run where he slipped down the standings. Although still a teenager, he’s definitely in contention for the men’s title.
Sullward is one of a few talented junior athletes who are tackling the elite men in Maputo, including Brendan Michell (ZIM). Uganda’s Sharif Kakooza is another bright young talent, who will officially make the transition from swimmer to triathlete. Kakooza represented Uganda at the 2009 FINA World Swimming Championships, but after that moved to the USA to turn his dream of becoming a triathlete into reality. The All Africa Games will be his first international triathlon.
The triathlon at the Maputo 2011 All Africa Games gets underway at 8am (local time) on Sunday 4 September with both elite women’s and men’s races. You can find the full reviews at www.triathlon.org after the race.
Find more details about this event - 2011 Maputo All-Africa Games