Attackers try to saw off S African athlete's legs

Attackers try to saw off S African athlete's legs”

Mhlengi Gwala, a 27-year-old triathlete from South Africa, is lucky to be alive this week after almost being hacked to death by three men armed with nothing but a handsaw who set out to rob him during a bicycle ride.

Gwala, 26, is recovering in a hospital following the attack early on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, and his injuries are not life-threatening. Robbery appears to have been ruled out as a motive.

The only thing that (thankfully) prevented them from being unable to cut the athlete's legs off was the fact that, according to media reports, the blade of the handsaw wasn't sharp enough to cut through the bones.

Gwala competed at the 2017 global world triathlon grand final in Rotterdam in September in the 25-29 male category, finishing 45th.

Gwala's training partner, Sandile Shange, has told the BBC: "He thought they were coming to rob him, stopped and gave them his phone but they didn't want his phone, didn't want his watch or bicycle". Doctors reckon they'll be able to fix the damage done to both legs, but the recovery is expected to take several months. "He will be able to walk and run again but it will take some time", Shange said. "They instead dragged him to the side of the road into nearby bushes", he said.

"He tried offering them his cell phone and money", de la Porte added. "However, we are encouraging our athletes to try and train in groups so that they can avoid these kinds of situations", he said.

Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete programme for KwaZulu-Natal province, told the BBC's Newsday programme they would be doing everything possible to get Mr Gwala back on his feet.

"A security van then came driving down".

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 vehicle to take him to a hospital.

Gwala's journey to becoming an athlete is pretty inspirational, with Jackson adding that he rose through the ranks after battling a drug and alcohol addiction to be a fierce competitor and representative for South Africa at global events. "We are a little bit confused, we don't know who is behind everything".

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