PE triathlete a winner at life

Walmer Township triathlete Hanson Singaphi will compete in the Ironman World Champs
Picture: Annelisa Swana

Singaphi overcomes odds on way to Worlds

Born in one of the poorest areas of Port Elizabeth, Walmer Township triathlete Hanson Singaphi has beaten the odds to compete in one of the most prestigious Ironman events in the world.

Singaphi is one of the 1 900 athletes from across the world who will be taking part in this year’s edition of the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on October 14.

He has already started training for the big race.

So how does it feel to be taking part in the biggest Ironman event in the world?

“I am very excited. It’s a great feeling because it’s every athlete’s dream to do Kona,” he said. “I never thought that one day I would be going to the word champs.

“Kona to me is more like a journey. It’s about learning, meeting new people and learning different cultures.

“The race is not about time but more about finishing.”

The 40-year-old athlete earned his spot at the world event after successfully finishing the Ironman African Championships race in Port Elizabeth early this month.

“I am extremely pleased that I will be competing at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. This is truly amazing, and a start of great things to happen in my life,” Singaphi said.

“I am proud of the community that raised me and for the support I continue to receive from all sportloving people of South Africa.”

Singaphi said he had always had a passion for sport but had been introduced to triathlon by Ironman South Africa race director Paul Wolff.

According to Singaphi, Wolff spotted him while he was still working at the Virgin Active gym in 2004. Wolff then introduced him to the SA Triathlon development team.

Although Singaphi was in charge of maintaining the swimming pool, he could not swim – a major blow for someone wanting to get into triathlon, which includes swimming, cycling and running.

However, this did not stop the determined athlete, who showed interest in the swimming training sessions which were provided by Wolff.

A year later, Singaphi took part in his first Ironman event – the African Champs in Port Elizabeth – where he finished the race in 12 hours. That was the start of his journey in triathlon.

“I have always been a runner but what inspired me to do triathlon is that it is a unique sport that challenges you every time you enter a competition,” Singaphi said.

“When I started I just wanted to challenge myself – I like a challenge – so I took triathlon as a test, not knowing that one day I would land up in Hawaii.

“I still get butterflies at the start of a race even though I have been doing this for years.

“I wanted to do something different to inspire my community,” he said.

“I wanted to be the first African man to compete in Ironman in my community.”

He said his love for the sport had rubbed off on some of his friends in the community.

Mbulelo David Ndubane, Zola Speelman and Zolile Mhlahlo, also of Walmer Township, have done a couple of triathlon races already.

Now working for Triangle Sports, an official shop for Ironman SA, Singaphi said triathlon to him was now more of a lifestyle.

“My advice to people who are interested in the sport is, anything is possible. You just need to be dedicated and you do not need a fancy or expensive bike for Ironman.

“If the wheels turn, that’s good enough.”

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