South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala was attacked by three assailants while he was riding his bike in Durban, according to ESPN.com.
His attackers "attempted to cut off his legs with a blunt chainsaw" and "sawed into his right calf, damaging muscle, nerves and bone. They missed a main artery, and surgeons are confident they can save the leg," per that report.
The attackers also began sawing into his left leg before fleeing the scene. Gwala, 27, has since been taken to the hospital, with the apparent motive for the attack robbery.
"He tried offering them his cellphone and money, but they pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg," his athletic sponsor, Sue de la Porte, told Christina Pitt of News24.com.
Fellow South African triathlete Henri Schoeman was appalled by the attack:
The extent of Gwala's injuries, potential recovery and basis for his assailants calling off the attack remains unclear. Dennis Jackson, the Elite Athlete Development programme director for the KwaZulu-Natal province, told Times Live:
"I haven't quite got to grips with exactly what happened. It seems like they pulled him into a bush while he was on a training ride. They had a chainsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part. We don't yet know how far they went in‚ whether they were trying to cut it off‚ or what the circumstances are. All we know is that Mhlengi is alive‚ he is talking and that he is under medical care. We don't have the whole story as yet."
"Mhlengi doesn't know why they left," Jackson continued. "He dragged himself out of the bush onto the road, and a private security car picked him up and took him to the nearest hospital. From what we understand‚ he is in a cast. What the damage to his leg is‚ we will know in the next few days I guess."