Mhlengi Gwala previously represented South Africa at global competitions in Chicago and the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Dennis Jackson, director of Elite Athlete Development program, told TimesLive that a motive for the attack remained a mystery. 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.
Doctors are confident they can save the athlete's legs, as the attackers missed a main artery. "He dragged himself out of the bush onto the road and a private security vehicle picked him up and took him to the nearest hospital", said Dennis Jackson‚ director of the Elite Athlete Development program that Gwala is a part of, via Times Live.
Triathlete Henry Schoemen, who won bronze for South Africa at the Rio Olympics in 2016, called the attack on Gwala "disgusting".
Amazingly, Gwala was able to get loose and drag himself to safety. and he's expected to walk again 'cause the chainsaw they used to hack him up was too blunt to buzz through his bones.
"I haven't quite got to grips with exactly what happened".
South Africa's deputy sports minister, Gert Oosthuizen, described the attack on the "star athlete" as "totally unacceptable" and said police are investigating. "We are a little bit confused, we don't know who is behind everything".
He said:"We have spoken with Mhlengi".
Jackson said the attackers also started sawing his left leg before stopping and fleeing. Triathlons feature swimming, cycling and running.