South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala severely injured after being attacked with chainsaw

Mhlengi Gwala has represented his country twice in international competitions and is tipped as a future star of the triathlon circuit

A South African athlete almost had his legs sawn off when he was attacked by a group of men while training in the early hours of Tuesday morning, media reports said. Luckily, he is expected to walk again because the chainsaw the men used was reportedly too blunt to cut through his flesh and bones, according to TMZ.

The grisly attack has alarmed athletes in Durban who routinely get up in the early morning darkness to train when few people are on the roads, and there was no immediate explanation for why Gwala was targeted. They had a handsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part. He is conscious. The circumstances seem really freaky and I haven't quite got to grips with exactly what happened.

"All we know is that Mhlengi is alive and he is talking and he is under medical care".

"They dragged him to the side of the road to some bushes, took a saw and started cutting his legs", Gwala's training partner told BBC.

Jackson said he was told the assailants were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand. "When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg".

De la Porte said she had spent the entire day with Gwala at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, where the triathlete was X-rayed and scheduled for an operation.

Police are reportedly treating the incident as attempted murder.

Gwala, who was set to compete in the South African national championships this month, was undergoing a five-hour surgery for his injuries, said Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for the KwaZulu-Natal province.

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

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