South African triathlete attacked with a blunt chainsaw while on a training bike

An international triathlete's training in South Africa was interrupted this week by a trio of attackers who tried cutting off his legs with a blunt chainsaw.

Mhlengi Gwala, an aspiring Ironman competitor who has represented South Africa at triathlon events since 2015, encountered three assailants while riding a training bike on Tuesday, as reported by ESPN and the Associated Press. The attackers were reportedly attempting to rob Gwala, and the athlete allegedly tried offering money and his cell phone from the side of a road in Durban, a coastal South African city that played host to the World Cup in 2010.

Apparently dissatisfied with Gwala's belongings, the attackers then tried sawing off his legs instead.

Dennis Jackson, the director of the Elite Athlete Development program for the area's KwaZulu-Natal province, confirmed to the AP that Gwala has already undergone successful surgery since the incident, relaying the surprise attack from Gwala's own words.

Jackson said Gwala told him that the attackers sawed into his right calf (with a dull blade), damaging muscle, nerves and bone. They missed a main artery, and surgeons are confident they can save the leg, Jackson said.

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 car to take him to a hospital.

Gert Oosthuizen, the deputy sports minister for South Africa, has already spoken out about the attack, calling it a "totally unacceptable" assault on a "star athlete" of the country. And Ironman South Africa has already initiated crowdfunding to "get Mhlengi back on his bike," as reported by the Times LIVE.

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