South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala is undergoing surgery after three men reportedly attempted to cut off his legs with a chainsaw.
Gwala was cycling in Durban in the early hours of Tuesday morning when three men approached him, dragged him from his bike and to some bushes.
It was then that they took a saw and began to cut his legs.
JUST IN: #MhlengiGwala is now undergoing surgery at the St Augustine's hospital. His sponsor and friend, Sue de la Porte has just confirmed this to EWN. The triathlete was attacked by three men yesterday who tried to saw off his legs while cycling near UKZN. ZN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) March 7, 2018
According to Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program in KwaZulu-Natal province, the attackers damaged muscle, nerves and bone in the right calf but missed a main artery.
Surgeons are confident that they can save Gwala's leg. His left leg was also cut as the assailants began sawing into it before fleeing.
Police are reportedly treating the incident as attempted murder.
It is not thought to have been a robbery as Gwala offered the men his phone, wallet, watch and bike - none of which was taken.
Gwala's training partner Sandile Shange told the BBC: "They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck. When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg."
South African Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Henri Schoeman took to Twitter to condemn the attack and wish Gwala a speedy recovery.
I wish all the best to @MhlengiGwala in his operation and road to recovery. We all stand behind you and support you as we need to make cycling safer on the roads in South Africa!— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018