Olympic qualification takes centre stage again this weekend at the 2012 Le Morne ATU African Triathlon Championships. Each of the five designated Continental Championships before London are Olympic qualifying events, not for individual athletes, but for their National Olympic Committee. This weekend two London spots will be allocated to the respective National Olympic Committees of the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s winners, and reigning African champions Kate Roberts and Richard Murray are the favourites to secure those positions for South Africa.
Elite Women’s Race
In the women’s race, Roberts and Gillian Sanders will be the favourites. Roberts has held the title of African champion for the past two years and also represented South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Sanders took silver in the African Championships last year, but will receive additional pressure this year from teammate Carlyn Fischer. Fischer claimed gold in triathlon’s first All Africa Games appearance last year, and also claimed silver in the U23 2011 African Championships and recently won the 2012 ITU Sprint Triathlon African Cup racing as an elite woman. Reigning Under 23 African Champion, Fabienne Aline St Louis, also joins the elite field for 2012 competing for Mauritius.
Elite Men’s Race
The favourite in the men’s race is the African continent’s highest ranking triathlete, Murray. He is the reigning African champion, won his first World Cup medal in Huatulco last year and enters Le Morne following a recent victory at the 2012 Cape Town ITU Sprint Triathlon African Cup. Other South African’s who could take the spot include three-time African champion and ITU World Cup winner Hendrik De Villiers, 2011 All Africa Games winner and three-time African champion Erhard Wolfaardt, former U23 African champion Wikus Weber and Travis Johnston.
But those others aiming for the Olympics can’t be discounted, including Mehdi Essadiq (MAR), a regular on the ITU World Cup elite circuit since 2007. Essadiq is coming off a fifth place in the 2012 Port Elizabeth ITU Triathlon Premium African Cup just two weeks ago, but crucially he finished above De Villiers and Wolfaardt. Zimbawe’s Christopher Felgate will also figure, he is a 2008 Beijing Olympian and a regular World Cup competitor. Local hope Benoit Girodeau will also contest the field, alongside Egyptians Ahmed Zaher and Omar Nour.
The African Championships are the Continental Championships of the African Triathlon Union. It includes the following federations, Cameroon Triathlon Federation, Egyptian Triathlon Federation, Federation Mauricienne de Triathlon, Ghana Triathlon Federation, Kenyan Triathlon Federation, Libyan Triathlon Federation, Madagascar Triathlon Federation, Morocan Triathlon Federation, Namibian Triathlon Association, Nigerian Triathlon Union, Tri Tunisia, Triathlon South Africa, Uganda Triathlon Federation, and Zimbabwe Triathlon Federation. In the lead in to London, each of the 10 Continental Championship winners (five female and five male) earn a spot for their NOC at London. Click here to read the Olympic Qualification 101
Elite Men – Saturday March 31 – 9:00am (UTC/GMT + 4) Click here for time in your area
Elite Women – Sunday March 31 – 9:10am (UTC/GMT + 4)
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY:
$4000 USD (equal for men & women)
Swim – Two-lap, 1.5-kilometre swim in the sea lagoon with a mass beach start.
Bike – Three-lap, 40-kilometre leg over a mostly flat course with some hills and corners.
Run – Three-lap, 10-kilometre run on a flat tar road.
Past ATU African Triathlon Champions
2011 Kate Roberts (RSA), Richard Murray (RSA)
2010 Kate Roberts (RSA), Erhard Wolfaardt (RSA)
2009 Andrea Steyn (RSA), Erhard Wolfaardt (RSA)
2008 Mari Rabie (RSA), Hendrik De Villiers (RSA)
2007 Kate Roberts (RSA), Hendrik De Villiers (RSA)
2006 Kate Roberts (RSA), Erhard Wolfaardt (RSA)
2005 Mari Rabie (RSA), Hendrik De Villiers (RSA)
2004 Megan Hall (RSA), Conrad Stoltz (RSA)