The dream of hosting the first ever IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship event on African soil will this weekend take a step towards fulfilment. The first group of international athletes start to qualify for prized slots to compete against the best in the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 world circuit in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa on September 1st and 2nd .
IRONMAN 70.3 Jönköping hosted in Jonkoping, Sweden will be the first IRONMAN 70.3 race to offer qualifying slots to the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. Expansive Swedish landscapes await the athletes this weekend, with magical forests and stunning views over crystal-clear lake Vättern as they compete for 50 age-group slots that are up for grabs.
IRONMAN South Africa MD, Keith Bowler says, “This weekend sparks the international beginning of this exciting event on the Nelson Mandela Bay horizon. In the upcoming months tens of thousands of athletes will take on various IRONMAN races across the world, hopeful to earn a qualifying slot for the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, hosted in the friendly city of the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship. This global event can only be entered via qualifying slot, setting the stage in Port Elizabeth to host the most elite IRONMAN 70.3 athletes the city has ever seen.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip said he was looking forward to welcoming the supreme athletes from across the globe next year. “It is tremendously exciting that the count down to hosting this Ironman championship has begun. We know that our City Twill remain a favourite training City for international Ironman contestants for many years to come,” said Executive Mayor Trollip.
The event in Sweden follows two successful qualification events already hosted in South Africa. Fifty South African athletes earned their spots here in Nelson Mandela Bay during the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship in April 2017, whilst a further 30 athletes earned their slots at the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban race in June 2017.
“For us this weekend marks a significant milestone as the first group of internationals earn their slots to race at our magnificent destination.The 30 represent only 1% of the 3000 athletes, man and women expected only to descend to our shores, each bringing with them family and friends. The City expect a direct spend of over R300 million over a two week period, that amount of spend will give our community, business, sport and tourism a welcome boost during an otherwise low tourism season” says an excited Andrew Whitfield, the Mayoral Committee Member tasked with overseeing this global event.
Nelson Mandela Bay residents, business and local entrepreneurs need to ready and position themselves to take advantage of the many opportunities this event presents. “ This global event is another feather in the cap for Nelson Mandela Bay as a world class sports tourism destination. Every resident in the City can be proud of this accolade and should participate in promoting and protecting our friendly City reputation,” concluded Councillor Whitfield.