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Cape Town to host major international triathlon event

By Mark Etheridge

Cape Town already has the iconic Cape Argus cycle tour and Two Oceans ultra-marathon events and as from 2014 will host the mother of all triathlon events, a first International Triathlon Union event.

The weekend of 26-27 April has been slotted in to host the second of eight World Triathlon Series (WTS) events and will be held in the V&A Waterfront environs.

Disciplines and distances involved are a 1500-metre swim, 40-kilometre cycle and 10km run.

“The ITU celebrates its 25th birthday next year so its a huge honour to host the first WTS event in Africa,” says Triathlon SA president Debbie Alexander. “We’ve been working on this since 2008 already and it’s great to be part of the series.

Said Christian Toetzke, CEO of Lagard├¿re Unlimited Events which stages most of the major global triathlon events: “We are eventually looking for nine cities around the world to host WTS events and it’s great to have Cape Town on board. These are hugely popular events. The Hamburg leg of the series has 11,000 competitors taking part and Cape Town will be hosting the fastest growing Olympic sport over the last 10 years.”

Economic impact will be huge for the city with WTS events boosting a city’s economy averaging around 6-10 million Euros┬á and a WTS Grand Final generating between 15-20 million.

Cape Town will be the second of the eight legs, after Aucland, New Zealand and before Yokohama, Japan.

Initially Cape Town will be part of the WTS calendar for the next three years but it’s envisaged that it will become a lifetime event. The event will be a huge boost in┬á Triathlon SA’s bid to attract future Olympians and help realise Alexander’s dream of having three men, three women and three para-triathletes on the starting line at the 2016 Rio Games.

South Africa’s three triathletes in London ÔÇô Richard Murray, Gill Sanders and Kate Roberts, were all present at Wednesday’s launch.

“It will be very special for the country,” said Murray. “It will bring big crowds and lots of action and just be a wonderful day.”

Added Roberts: “I know I’m biased but Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world and what better platform for both triathlon and the country as a whole.”

And Sanders, now based in London but in SA on a brief holiday, said: “The world’s international triathletes will just jump at the chance to come here and compete.”

Prospective Olympians Henri Schoeman and former world junior champion Wian Sullwald were also both at the launch.

“I took a two-week break after a hectic last season but I’m back into things now. My first race of the season will be the KZN Championships, then SA sprint championships but I’ll definitely do this one, all the big guys will want to come here and many of them train over here in any case.”

Sullwald also confirmed that he’d be at the starting line next April. “I had a nice break and put on about five extra kilograms, but I’m back down to about 70kg now and am ready to build-up to this event.”