PE trio set to take on world’s best
Three Port Elizabeth age-group athletes are ready to take on the best in the world when they line up for the Isuzu Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sunday.
Despite a setback or two, Peter Gatangi, 41, Thembile Nxele, 34, and Siyabulela “Jabu” Mpengesi, 37, say preparation has gone well and there is not much left to do now.
The athletes were selected to be part of a two-year programme developed by the Mandela Bay Development Agency to find promising triathletes from previously disadvantaged groups.
They then received backing from the initiative in their quest to qualify for the global spectacle.
Once selected, they were put through a rigorous training camp under the guidance of SA’s most decorated Ironman participant, Raynard Tissink, now a coach at Team Tissink Triathlon.
Gatangi, racing in the 40-44 category, had a setback when a bicycle accident at the beginning of August resulted in a fractured thumb.
“But with a brace supporting it, I am ready to go,” he said.
“[It] has not had an impact on my run [but] my bike segment is a bit slow – I have some difficulty cornering.”
Mpengesi, who will be racing in the hotly contested 3539 category, said he was happy with his preparations and hoping to give a good account of himself on Sunday.
“[Preparations] have been going great and I think we have done everything we needed to do ahead of the race,” he said.
“We haven’t focused on anything specific, but just to improve on overall times across each of the disciplines.”
Nxele, 36, said: “We have been training hard, trying to improve our times across the disciplines and, come race day, I will be out to put to the test all the hard work [done] over the last couple of months.”
The three athletes said they were hoping to finish in under five hours.
The Ironman 70.3 World Championship is the culmination of more than 100 races around the world where more than 130,000 athletes vie for the 4,500 available participation slots.