South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, 26, will undergo leg surgery in Durban after he was attacked with a chainsaw in the early hours of Tuesday.
Gwala was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at 03:15 when he was approached by three men and dragged into the surrounding bushes, according to his athletic sponsor Sue de la Porte.
"He tried offering them his cellphone and money, but they pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg," said De la Porte.
Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said that the attack had not been reported and could not comment further on the issue.
De la Porte said she spent the whole day with Gwala at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.
"He is very badly injured. We've just spoken to the plastic surgeon and he is currently in the surgical ward."
Gwala's legs were X-rayed and he is scheduled for an operation on Wednesday.
"The doctor says the blood flow is good, the only problem is with his tendons," said Gwala's friend and training partner Sandile Shange.
The young athlete from Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, has a promising sporting career and has already competed in two international triathlons.
Triathlete Henry Schoeman broke the news of the attack on his verified Twitter account and pledged his support for Gwala.
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