Luvuyo Bangazi: Ironman 70.3 race brings all sorts of opportunities

It is weird that South Africans use numeric references to a specific year to indicate major events or milestones in our country.

Although this phenomenon really took off pre- and post-2010, it actually goes back to 1994.

I bet you already know what those two numeric references relate to.

Conversations around bars or dinner tables all spun around 2010, what 2010 was going to bring and so on.

For the rest of the world, 2010 was just one long year, but for us it was all about a month or so filled with soccer extravaganza.

When we speak of 2016 we are actually referring to elections!

Now we’re on to 2019 and every political speech, without hesitation, makes reference to 2019 – but only we Saffas know what it is about.

When this column was birthed it was for the sole purpose of getting the city talking and excited about the biggest sporting event to hit Nelson Mandela Bay since 2010.

Our intention is to get everyone – athletes, business, spectators, visitors and even pets – excited about the possibilities that a huge event like this brings.

Well, surprise, surprise 2018 has just arrived and it is just over eight months until the world gathers in Nelson Mandela Bay.

I am talking about the Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2018 in the Bay.

This is the 10-day extravaganza of all things triathlon, specifically long-distance-related.

As previously covered in this newspaper, the highlight of this fest is the two-day race in which more than 4 500 mainly international athletes from close on 100 countries race in our city for a chance to be crowned a world champion in professional and age-group categories.

It is also known that I write these columns in my personal capacity, not as a representative of the Mandela Bay Development Agency, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, or the Ironman organisation, to which my relationship is like any other athlete.

I am involved as a member of a preparatory committee, but anything on these pages is purely from general knowledge and personal observations.

As an active athlete, I get to share our roads with many inquisitive athletes who are keenly interested to know what’s going on with the event and I do my best to give a personal perspective.

My biggest surprise, though, was a certain Sipho – one of the many men Walmer township residents who stand along Buffelsfontein Road scouting for work.

I have picked Sipho up a few times before to assist with odd jobs at home.

To my surprise, he has taken it on himself to talk Ironman in his community. He animatedly narrated a story of his friend who just could not believe that there are black people going out to swim 4km at sea.

Sipho plans to bring his friend to the Ironman in April.

The point is that at long last the message is getting through, slowly but surely.

If we can all get excited and promote the prospects of this major event coming to our city, we are all on our way to becoming winners.

Many like Sipho will find work opportunities.

Let us all strive to build up 2018 as the Ironman 70.3 World Championship year of opportunities for all.

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