Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S triathlete Andie Kuipers had a positive outing over the weekend when she claimed gold in the elite women category of the 2023 World Triathlon Development Regional Cup in Diani, Kenya.
The event is an initiative for World Triathlon to assist athletes from smaller African federations who are trying to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics build their ranking.
Zimbabwe had two athletes taking part at the event – Kuipers and Mandlenkosi Mthethwa, who is still a junior.
Kuipers was the first to cross the finish line in 1 hour 2minutes 51 seconds in the race consisting of a 750m swim, 19.8km bike and 5km run.
She was followed by Mauritius’ Julie Staub in 1 hour 4minutes 27 seconds and in third place was Kenya’s Aisha Nasser Baksh with a time of 1 hour 9 minutes 49 seconds.
Kuipers is one of the 10 beneficiaries of the IOC Olympic Solidarity scholarships for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Triathlon Zimbabwe coach Pamela Fulton said the weekend’s outcome is a confidence booster for Kuipers ahead of other upcoming events as she pursues qualification for the Games.
“So this event definitely has helped Andie with her ranking. She still has quite a way to go. She’s got an Algerian lady and a Mauritian lady who are ahead of her. Julie (Staub of Mauritius) also competed at this event and came second, so she has also increased her ranking. But this was crucial to Andie to definitely give her the confidence knowing there is still a lot to go.
“But she has definitely got a race plan now and is definitely targeting events and she is hoping to be doing the Mauritius event which is in five weeks’ time. That’s Africa sprint event, it will be a tough race because the top in Africa will be there.
“And then the following month, in October, she will be hoping to go to the Olympic distance, Africa Championships in Egypt and that too will be a tough event because the top in Africa will also be there.
“And then she hopes to do an event in Kilifi back here in Kenya in November. So she has got a really good programme lined up,” said Fulton.
Mthethwa also had an encouraging performance, being the youngest on the start list as he was placed ninth in the elite men in 1 hour 11 minutes 31 seconds in a field of 11. His performance earned him a silver medal in the junior men.
The host federation was allowed to add a junior category in the medal ceremony.
Kuipers and Mthethwa teamed up for the mixed relay and they got a bronze as they were placed third behind Mauritius and Kenya.
“Both athletes raced well. Andie was so well prepared for her race and we are extremely happy with her performance in both the individual and team relay race.
“Mandla, also very happy with his individual race. He was one of the youngest on the start line and has now experienced racing at elite level.
“Being a development level race, the level of competition was a mixture of juniors like Mandla being exposed to new aspects of racing at elite level, plus very experienced elite athletes like Andie, who are desperately looking for world ranking points, 125 points were allocated to the winning man and lady.”
Kuipers is set to take a break at the end of season in December and resume her build-up again next year. She will be hoping to take part at the African Games and the Troutbeck event.