From previously disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to reach new heights and excel is always a tough battle. However, this once in a lifetime opportunity has been grabbed with both hands by triathletes Talia Nomdoe, Zolile Mhlahlo, Justin Butler, Yaseen Abrahams and Yusuf Arendse who will be representing the Nelson Mandela Bay-based NPO in this world renowned event.
Talia Nomdoe (25) is the only female and second-youngest member in the group of five. This is her first season with Siyaphambili, having joined in 2017. This promising and hardworking athlete is also a full-time paramedic student at Nelson Mandela University. Her zeal to succeed has also seen her enter the Standard Bank IRONMAN® African Championship, in April, which will be her first full-distance IRONMAN® event.
Zolile Mhlahlo (44) is another athlete who embodies the Siyaphambili “reach for the stars” attitude. Mhlahlo joined Siyaphambili in 2015. After facing a major challenge of not being able to swim, his hard work and consistent drive has seen him overcome this obstacle, “Zolile turned his weakness into a strength and is now one of the fastest overall finishers in Siyaphambili. We are excited to see what he will bring at the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship” states Siyaphambili Administrator, Khanyisa Bada.
Yaseen Abrahams (47) is in his second season with Siyaphambili but is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. He pushes himself, works hard and gives triathlon his all. He will be joined by Yusuf Arendse (33), who has been with the programme since 2011, and has consistently been one of the top Siyaphambili athletes to cross the finish line on the red carpet.
Siyaphambili team coordinator and coach, Justin Butler (26), has also qualified – having joined the programme in 2012. He is an example of what you can achieve by following the programme and giving it your all. Assisting all the athletes with their training, while maintaining his own, he is a hard worker and key member of Siyaphambili.
“We hope to inspire all potential PDI athletes to take the leap if they are interested in IRONMAN triathlon, by showing them that it is possible to achieve aspirations of this kind, despite circumstances. We also hope to create a platform for talented PDI athletes to grow and become pioneers in the sport”, states Butler, concerning the overall aim of the programme.
The programme, which started in 2005 with seven athletes, has seen a steady increase in numbers. Backed by sponsors – Standard Bank, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Virgin Active and IRONMAN South Africa – Siyaphambili has grown to include 30 athletes. Correct training programmes, nutrition and coaching highlight athlete strengths and give attention to weaker areas. This is all done to ensure successful, elite participation. “We highlight your weakness, work on it, and help you grow”, states Bada.
About IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
In 2006 the inaugural IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship was held in Clearwater, Florida becoming another test for the world’s elite triathletes. Since that auspicious beginning, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity moving first to Henderson, Nevada in 2011, where athletes encountered a more challenging terrain and then to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec—its first stop on the new “global rotation” for the championship. The event reached European soil for the first time ever in 2015, with Zell am See, Austria, hosting an epic and memorable event. In 2016, the race moved from the mountains to the beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. In 2017, the race returned to North American making it way to Chattanooga, Tennessee and marked the first time that the event would take place over two days. This year marks the first time the event will be held on the African continent, taking place in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa and for the second year will be a two-day race. More than 190,000 athletes participated in a season of qualifying races for the championship, a series which consists of over 100 events in locations such as Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, South Africa and Switzerland. Approximately 4,500 athletes from around the world are registered to compete in this prestigious race. Participants in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship range in age from 18 to 85-plus, and represent 90 countries, territories and regions. In 2019, the event will be hosted in Nice, France.