The six strong Zimbabwean Jr Triathlon team departed for Egypt on Wednesday to participate in the ATU African Triathlon Championships and Pan-Arab Championships. Team Zimbabwe will race in the Junior men’s and women’s events of the championships on Saturday, May 9 in the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh. Both the junior men’s and women’s races include strong contenders from across Africa, but most notably from Egypt, Namibia and South Africa.
The three representing Zimbabwe in the Junior Boys race are led by Youth Olympian Drew Williams who is an U6 student at St John’s College. L6 Peterhouse student Gideon Benade and Hellenic student Alexander Colegrave round out the boys’ delegation. Zimbabwe will be represented in the Junior Women’s race by Hellenic’s cross country sensation Gabrielle de Chassart together with Chisipite Senior students Rebecca Duncan and Karishma Patel.
Team Zimbabwe was selected after the Zimbabwe National Triathlon Championships held in Nyanga at the end of March, where Williams had the fastest men’s time of one hour ten minutes and thirty four seconds. De Chassart won gold with the fastest time for junior women, finishing in one hour, eighteen minutes and sixteen seconds. The team will be accompanied by coach Pam Chalmers-Fulton and team manager Tammy Benade as well as head of the Zimbabwe Triathlon Union, Rick Fulton.
The ATU Championships serve as selection of the ITU World Triathlon Grand Championships which will take place September 15-20 in Chicago, Illinois. The top three in Egypt this week for men and for women will get automatic berths at the World Champs, with a few additional berths specially reserved by ITU open depending on qualifying times. Williams has his eye firmly on competing in Chicago, the ultimate qualifier for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
Saturday’s junior sprint course starts with a 750m swim in the sea followed by a 19km bike ride on asphalt and culminating with a 5km road run. The Elite competition, which takes place on the 10th, doubles these distances on the same course.