Yas Marina Circuit was buzzing with excitement, as aspiring triathletes, spectators and families gathered for the community events and races hosted by the World Triathlon Championships Series Abu Dhabi, presented by Daman.
With community races for triathlon, duathlon, running, swimming and cycling race categories available for all ages and abilities, the last day of the World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi concluded the action-packed weekend. The entire event saw the registration of over 2,000 athletes over 2 days, with the elite racing on Friday, 5 November, and the community race taking place on Saturday.
Suhail Abdulla AlAreefi, Executive Director of the Events Sector at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council said: “It was phenomenal to see aspiring and professional triathletes, and the wider community come together in Abu Dhabi to practise this incredible sport. The successful hosting and organising of this event further proves how Abu Dhabi is a central and strategic hub for the sporting events industry, and we look forward to hosting the World Triathlon Championship Series Finals in 2022.”
He added: “Our wise leadership has made hosting large-scale and strategic events possible with their clear directives and vision. Their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has reassured us of their commitment to our safety and wellbeing, and we are encouraged to relay the same to our participants and attendees. It has been a successful two days, full of excellence and strength, and we are hopeful of the bright future ahead.”
Commenting on the success of the event, Hamad Al Mehyas, CEO, The National Health Insurance Company – Daman said: “It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in the Community Race of the World Championship Series Abu Dhabi presented by Daman. The event’s participants, many of whom were trying their hand at the triathlon, duathlon, running, swimming or cycling for the first time, were incredible. It was inspiring to see so many people challenging themselves, particularly as the UAE emerges from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He added: “Daman is invested in the long-term health and well being of all the people of the UAE, and we would encourage everybody to commit to a healthier, more active lifestyle. Taking part in regular sport or physical activity is just one way to do that and we are committed to helping as many people as possible achieve their health and fitness goals. We are also proud of our partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council who share our commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles and we are poised to continue with our support and investments into these landmark events.”
In addition to the races, the community were also able to enjoy a vast display of entertainment, kids’ zones, retailer booths, and food and beverage options.
Amateurs, pros, and triathlon enthusiasts can look forward to the return of the event in Abu Dhabi in 2022, in addition to the World Triathlon Championship Finals next year.
Quotes from a selection of Age Group Winners
Crowned winner for the Men’s Sprint Triathlon for ages 30-39, Italy’s Alessio Rispoli finished the course within 1:06:11. This was the triathlete’s first-ever race and win in Abu Dhabi.
Commenting on the fantastic opportunity to race at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit, Rispoli said: “I was an elite triathlete from Italy, and recently moved to Dubai to train and coach fellow athletes. It was a very nice [experience], because Italy’s Ferrari’s and to ride where the Formula One track is amazing.”
He added: “This is a top race for this particular age group around the world. Because of the organisation, facilities and just, everything. I [look forward] to coming back next year.”
Representing Ireland, Hilary Hughes, took the lead for the Sprint Triathlon category for ages 30-39, with an impressive time of 1:09:42, showcasing her swimming, cycling, and running skills.
“It was a fantastic race and it is incredible to be racing here in Abu Dhabi. The course is amazing, you’re on a Formula One track, when would you ever get to that?” remarked Hughes.
“It was one of those races where you keep your head down and keep going all the way. I started triathlon in 2019 and have just been working my way up. So, I have been living in Dubai working on my training with John McFadden. I am National Champion in in the middle distance at home, I won Mamzar last weekend, and now I’m here inspired by watching all the pro-athletes yesterday.”
Claiming the top rank for the Men’s Sprint Triathlon for ages 40-49, Spain’s Oscar Marquez Balta finished with a time of 1:05:05, 23 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, David Walsh from Australia.
Commenting on the race and his path to victory, Balta said: “It was very well organised. The swim was smooth, I was expecting it to be very crowded, but there was plenty of space to pass people. The transition was very long, you had time to manage yourself, and the ride was very wide, a little bit technical as expected, but it was not challenging in terms of overtaking people.”
Continuing, Balta added: “It was fast, and [following] the transition the ramp was very well marked, there was a lot of water and the temperature was not an issue. It was a very good experience. I have come to these [sporting events in Abu Dhabi] since 2019, and in every race I take part in, I enjoy it a lot.”
Commenting on the value brought by these community races and events, Kimberly Dittrich, from Canada, category champion for the Women’s Sprint Triathlon for above 60s, said: “This is my all-time favourite event in Abu Dhabi. Being here, looking at how beautifully organized it is, the energy - its fabulous.”
She added: “This is my third year doing triathlon and I do it really social. I love being with the younger generation because they are so inspiring and encouraging. I also do it because I try to get older women to do sports. They don’t have to do triathlon alone; they can do relay or boot camps and just be the best they can be.”
Winner for the Junior Duathlon, James Charlier, from Great Britain, said: “It was very good. I had a positive mindset and I thought I could do this. It was a good competition as there were others that sprinted right ahead of me, who were driven to go ahead and overtake me. I really enjoy doing races, triathlons, and duathlons, I would like to do further distances. It would be great to join the Olympics as well.”
Kuwait’s Abdullah AlRefae, winner of the Super Sprint Triathlon, for above 16s, said: “Very thankful to Abu Dhabi and the organisers for hosting this event and race at the end of COVID-19 pandemic. It was really good and the health and safety regulations [made me feel safe]. 15 team members and I came from Kuwait to represent our country, and they have won across many categories.”
He added: “The weather today is very hot and the humidity is high but I did my best. Alhamdulillah. I pushed very hard with the swim and came 3rd. For the bike, I did my best and came out 1st, beating the second place by maybe 10 seconds. With the run, I knew it was only 2.5KM, and I knew that it was very hot for all of us. But I think that because I am from Kuwait, I had an advantage. I pushed very hard mentally and came forward of my competitor by 30-35 seconds. I will be going to Doha for the Asian cup next, which is going to be a long-distance sprint and am looking forward to it.”