Our City has been proudly and successfully hosting the African leg of the World Ironman Championships for many years. But now the Big Daddy is coming to us! The Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2018 will be held in Nelson Mandela Bay in September 2018. As promised, top Ironman athletes from across the world have begun to flock to our City to prepare and acclimatise themselves to local conditions. Logistical preparations by the host City and the organisers are on overdrive to host what promises to be a most memorable World Ironman Championship – the first ever held on the African continent!
At the heart of this world event, the City has promised Nelson Mandela Bay residents and the Eastern Cape as a whole that this event will not only be a tool to off local expertise and capabilities: it will also be a platform for the City to inspire the youth from previously disadvantaged background that everything is possible if one sets one’s mind on it. Through its Developmental Agency, the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) the City took a decision to support a number of local athletes, with the focus on athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds. The support is taking the form of athlete development, coaching, nutrition, equipment and race support.
The investment has already started to pay off: one of our own, Siyabulela Jabu Mpengesi, finished third in his age group at the recent 5150 Ironman Nelson Mandela Bay event. Through his recent success, it has dawned on Mpengesi that he is on the verge of making history, to become the first black African person to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. However, Mpengesi understands that there is still a long way to go.
“Through the support I have received from the Nelson Mandela Bay, through the MBDA, I have managed to reach for my dreams. It is becoming more real to me that if I continue to work hard, I will qualify for the World Championships,” said Mpengesi. Working with other local and some international athletes that are already in town, Mpengesi is already in the middle of his preparation, with only a few Ironman events left in which he can still qualify, including the African Championships that will be held here in our City next year in April.
“I know what it will mean to me to be part of next year’s Ironman event. I have came too far, with more than 10 years of dedication to this sport, which is not traditionally a black man’s sport, not to participate. My participation and success next year will carry not only my dreams, but the aspirations of many young men and women from the dusty townships and farm areas of Nelson Mandela Bay. I have to succeed, so that these young people can understand that everything is possible,” Mpengesi said.
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