Inspirational Bahraini hero to tackle her first ITU world Triathlon Abu Dhabi on Yas Island this March
Bahraini national and para-triathlete, Shaikha Al Shaiba, has her sights set on the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi. The pinnacle of world triathlon will take place on 2 and 3 March on Yas Island and will feature dedicated waves for para-triathletes for the very first time.
Commenting on how sporting events in the region are evolving to become more inclusive: "We are fortunate that we can now participate in marathons, obstacles races, triathlons and more," said Shaikha. "This has opened the doors for many people like me across many sports."
Seasoned para-triathletes, such as Shaikha, and first-timers will have the chance to rub shoulders and compete alongside inspirational heroes of Paralympic triathlon including; World and European Champion and Rio 2016 Paralympic Gold medallist, Andy Lewis and Mohamed Lahna, the Bronze medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
The dedicated para waves will take place on Saturday 2 March, on the same course as fellow age groupers at the iconic Yas Island – which was recently announced as the host venue for ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018.
Shaikha, who hails from the Kingdom of Bahrain, has signed up for her first Abu Dhabi challenge and is looking forward to tackle the ITU World Triathlon Series season opener this March. "I fell in love with multi-discipline sport last year when I did my first IRONMAN 70.3 in Bahrain. I was thrilled to complete the swim, bike, run course and decided to check off the Abu Dhabi event for my bucket list this year."
The 34-year-old, who is the Vice President in one of the Investment Companies in Bahrain, lost her arm to bone cancer. "I was 18 months old and had to amputate my arm at that point."
"I went on to attend school and wear a prosthetic arm which I didn't really like and it was more for appearance purposes. I then decided to stop wearing the arm and didn't care what anyone thought anymore," said Shaikha. "This was a pivotal moment in my life because not only did it give me a boost of confidence, but it also led me to believe that nothing is impossible."
In April 2016 Shaikha's friend encouraged her to join their team in participating in the obstacle course race - Spartan Race Bahrain. Contestants had to run, climb and crawl through nets over an intense 15km-plus course with more than 25 obstacles.
"When I was considering competing in the Spartan Race a friend told me that these races do not cater for people like me. That was the exact moment where I decided that I was going to go ahead and participate with the team and try it out. Remember nothing is impossible."
"Crossing that finish line was the best feeling in the world," recalls Shaikha. "I've now become an ambassador for Spartan Race in Bahrain which is fantastic."
Filled with confidence and determination Shaikha went on to sign up for the IRONMAN 70.3 in Bahrain in November last year. "I thoroughly enjoyed competing in the Ironman and decided to sign up to the IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai in February followed by the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi in March."
Shaikha currently trains independently for close to ten hours every week. The Bahraini star is on a mission to motivate others to follow in her steps and take the plunge into the world of multi-discipline sports. "You will be surprised at what you are capable of doing on that race course. Once you've experienced your first triathlon you won't be able to stop at just one."
Tackling the same course as the age-groupers, para-triathletes will start their journey in the waters of Yas Marina, before taking to the track of Yas Marina Circuit, the host of the Formula 1TM Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand. The route will take competitors past likes of Yas Links Golf Course, voted the ‘best golf course in the Middle East’; Ferrari World, the home of the world’s fastest rollercoaster; and Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s largest retail experience. The culmination of the race will see competitors cross the finish line on the famous ITU blue carpet on Yas Marina Circuit’s helipad.
Abu Dhabi has become the leading regional hub for triathlon, with close to 4,000 triathletes, including 120 of the world’s best elites and 500 juniors expected to take to take part in the 2018 event.
Para-athletes Categories at the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018
- PTWC/PTHC: This category includes athletes who predominantly use a wheelchair for their daily ambulation. This includes athletes with comparable activity limitation and an impairment of, but not limited to: muscle power, limb deficiency, hypertonia, ataxia, and athetosis. Severe cerebral palsy athletes will use a recumbent hand-cycle on the bike course and a racing wheelchair on the run segment. It is divided into two subclasses, H1 which is the most impaired and H2 being the least impaired.
- PST2: This category includes athletes with comparable activity limitation and an impairment of, but not limited to, limb deficiency, hypertonia, ataxia and or athetosis, impaired muscle power or range of movement. Common health conditions could include a complete brachial plexus, above elbow amputee, double below knee amputee or severe cerebral palsy. In both bike and run segments, amputee athletes may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
- PST3: Common health conditions could include partial brachial plexus, moderate multiple limb impairments or moderate cerebral palsy. In both bike and run segments, the athlete may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
- PST4: Common health conditions could include a below knee amputee, below elbow amputee and mild cerebral palsy. In both bike and run segments, the athlete may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
- PST5: Common health conditions could include a below knee amputee, below elbow amputee and mild cerebral palsy. In both bike and run segments, the athlete may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices
- PTVI: This category includes athletes with total or Partial Visual Impairment (IBSA/IPC defined subclasses B1, B2, and B3): To be eligible, athletes must meet the criteria outlined below. One guide is mandatory throughout the race and each competitor must ride a tandem during the bike segment.
a) B1: Visual acuity poorer than LogMAR 2.60
b) B2: Visual acuity ranging from LogMAR 1.50 to 2.60 (inclusive) and/or visual field constricted to a diameter of less than 10 degrees
c) B3: Visual acuity ranging from LogMAR 1.40 to 1 (inclusive) and/or visual field constricted to a diameter of less than 40 degrees.
International triathletes and para-triathletes can now take advantage of travel packages, which include a choice of outstanding hotels located on Yas Island with access to state of the art training facilities, restaurants, entertainment and shopping.
Online registrations for the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018 are now open to the public via the race website, AbuDhabi.Triathlon.org/Enter. Prices starting from just AED 405 for adults and AED 60 for children