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Bay tri-athletes shine for honour to compete at the World Championships

Iron will: Peter Gatang'i became the first black male from Nelson Mandela Bay to qualify for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September this year.

Buoyed by a record one hundred slots up for grabs at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships on home soil, tri-athletes from Nelson Mandela Bay put in stellar performances at the Ironman 70.3 South Africa in Buffalo City.

Luvuyo Bangazi, Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) spokesman, said the race with a field of 2 400 highly competitive athletes from across the world produced excellent results for the MBDA Triathlon Stars Program.

"Peter Gatang’i (40), coached by eight-time Ironman Champion Raynard Tissink, became the first black South African from Nelson Mandela Bay to earn a chance to compete at the prestigious race in September where only the best triathletes from over 90 countries battle to crown a World Champion.

"Peter finished thirteenth in his age group clocking five hours and one minute,” Bangazi said.

The East London event attracted the biggest interest in a world qualifier slot allocation ever recorded in South Africa. The tangible excitement at the slots announcement ceremony showed the burgeoning interest of athletes from across the world as many of those who qualified came from as far as Canada.

"Local triathlete Bruce Gie recently raced the full Ironman world championship in Kona, Hawaii and after that experience he was determined to grab a slot to race in Port Elizabeth.

"Bruce travelled to Thailand to try and win a slot to race at home but it didn’t work out. However, his hard work on Sunday made his dream come true.

"This goes to show how far athletes go for a chance to race in Nelson Mandela Bay in September,” said Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality 70.3 World Championship Project Manager Rebecca Gatang’i.

Speaking as director of proceedings during the slot allocation, Paul Kaye, known as the voice of Ironman the world over, said: "I could barely contain my excitement when Nelson Mandela Bay was announced as the host city in 2016.

"People are excited to come to South Africa for the World Championships. It is something we must embrace and be proud of. We cannot wait to host the world in September!” Kaye bellowed.

The MBDA program run by Bangazi looks at creating opportunities for black athletes to be competing and excel on merit. These athletes have to earn their participation based on performance on the course and nothing else. The six athletes were chosen after a call for submissions was concluded.

"The MBDA programme differs from that run by Ironman South Africa on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The city program focuses focuses on high performance and sport excellence whereas the MBDA's program affords previously disadvantaged individuals an opportunity to participate in Ironman,” added Bangazi.

"Five of Peter’s colleagues are still working very hard to attain six of the 4500 qualifying slots currently available across the globe,” said Bangazi.

South African Ironman legend Ken Poole, Robbie Coulsen, Antonella Saporta, Derron Thompson, JC Le Roux and Gie are just a few of the South African triathletes awaiting those still competing for qualifying slots at the Standard Bank Ironman Nelson Mandela Bay in April and other races across the world.

Ends

Issued on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality by Media Management Officer Kupido Baron (082 780 2726 / 041 506 1500 / kbaron@mandelametro.gov.za / @kupidobaron).

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