Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe says the Bonaqua Troutbeck Africa Triathlon Union Sprint African Cup in Nyanga this weekend presents a perfect window of opportunity for the country to market itself as a tourist destination.
Kazembe will be the guest of honour during the ceremony to officially open the triathlon showcase in Nyanga this morning.
The Minister said such events were important in branding Zimbabwe as a nation that was open for tourism and also had a capacity to host major sporting events.
“This is a very big event and that is why I am going there to officially open it,” Kazembe told The Herald.
“When you look at the different athletes that are coming from all around the world then you can appreciate that this is indeed a big and very important event.
“Our thrust as a government is to show the world that Zimbabwe has turned a chapter and this country is now open for business and wlecomes everyone who wants to come here with open arms.
“Such international events are important in helping us in our mission because these foreign athletes, when they come here and see the beauty of our country, they go back home and tells great stories about us and that inspires others to also come and visit us.”
Veteran Zimbabwean triathlete Rory Mackie is set to grace this year’s showcase.
The 36-year-old Mackie joins Gideon Benade (19) as the only Zimbabwean elite men for the annual event. Mackie and Benade are the first Zimbabweans to take part in the Troutbeck event since former Olympian Christopher Felgate last competed in 2012.
Mackie last competed in Troutbeck in April 2006 when he finished second to South African Erhard Wolfaardt.
His last international recorded race was in August of the same year when he competed in the Mombasa International Triathlon Union African Cup and emerged fourth
Reports in January 2007 indicated that Mackie had quit as a professional triathlete, almost seven years after taking the local triathlon scene by storm.
He attributed his decision to a troublesome shoulder injury, which he sustained after being attacked by an elephant in
With Jonathan Zipf of Germany having withdrawn, the elite men start list remains at 16.
As was the case last year, defending champions are not taking part in Troutbeck.
German-born Jonas Schomburg, the elite men’s winner in 2017, and women’s champion Aoi Kuramoto of Japan are not competing this year.
Zimbabwe Triathlon Union president Rick Fulton said international triathletes were set to start arriving in the country from yesterday and would be driven to Nyanga on the same day.
The Troutbeck event has had Africa Triathlon Cup status for 11 years, making it the longest running competition on the African continent.
Schomburg lived up to his pre-event favourite tag last year when he beat dark horse, Namibian Jean Paul Burger, who came second, and Stimmel of Germany (third).
He pocketed $750, Burger ($500) and Stimmel ($250). With Schomburg not taking part, Burger and Stimmel head into the men’s race as favourites.