Triathlete Mhlengi Gwala was attacked by three men, who dragged him to a bush and tried to cut his legs off, in the east coast city of Durban yesterday.
Triathlete Henry Schoemen, who won bronze for South Africa at the Rio Olympics in 2016, called the attack on Gwala "disgusting".
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.
"He thought they wanted to rob him of his phone, his watch or the bicycle, so he offered it all to them but they did not want that". They then started cutting his legs with a saw.
Gwala‚ who has been part of the programme for four years‚ has represented South Africa twice in worldwide triathlons.
Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for KwaZulu-Natal, told The Guardian that the alleged attackers missed a main artery and surgeons are confident they can save the leg. His left leg was also cut as the assailants began sawing into it before fleeing.More news: Russian plane crashes in Syria, killing all 32 aboard
"A case of attempted murder was opened at Umbilo police station for investigation".
The motive for the attack is not immediately known. Three men reportedly ambushed Mhlengi Gwala and attempted to hack off both of his legs, TMZ reports.
"The chainsaw wasn't that sharp and they couldn't get it started". "We are a little bit confused, we don't know who is behind everything".
"They took the chainsaw, which they were not using electrically, but manually". "He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport". "How safe are we on South Africa's roads?".
Gert Oosthuizen, the deputy sports minister for South Africa, has already spoken out about the attack, calling it a "totally unacceptable" assault on a "star athlete" of the country.
The BBC News wrote that Gwala expected to participate in the South African national championships this month.