Triathlete attacked with chainsaw on training ride

Mhlengi Gwala was riding near the University of KwaZulu-Natal when he was attacked

Gwala was reportedly training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday morning at around 3.15am when he was approached by three men and dragged into the bushes.

South African Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Henri Schoeman took to Twitter to condemn the attack and wish Gwala a speedy recovery.

The attack reportedly happened in the early hours of Wednesday in Durban while Gwala was on a training ride.

Director of the Elite Athlete Development Programme which Gwala is part of, Dennis Jackson, told TimesLive that the motive is a mystery.

Jackson said the attackers also started sawing into Gwala's left leg before fleeing, enabling the athlete to crawl to a road and flag down a passing auto to take him to a hospital.

Jackson told The Guardian that Gwala had overcome drug and alcohol addictions to represent South Africa at worldwide competitions in Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands a year ago.

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Gwala's sponsor and friend Sue de la Porte says the triathlete tried to surrender his phone, watch and bicycle.

"I have never heard of any enemies that he may have", Jackson said, according to The Guardian.

A personal message to the athlete has been shared on Facebook by Nathalie Asensi-Verdu Crawford. "We are a little bit confused, we don't know who is behind everything". He became an athlete after overcoming drug and alcohol addictions, Jackson said.

"Mhlengi doesn't know why they left".

The young athlete from Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, has a promising sporting career and has already competed in two worldwide triathlons.

Gwala is a strong contender for the race which is a 40k cycle, 10k run and 1.7k swim.

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