ABU DHABI, 8 February (BelTA - Emirates News Agensy). - Abu Dhabi Sports Council today announced a stellar field of world, Olympic and Commonwealth champions for next month's season-opening World Triathlon Championship Series race in Abu Dhabi, presented by Daman.
Set to take place on 3rd and 4th March at Yas Marina Circuit, the tournament will feature some of the biggest names in triathlon from around the world as they aim to get their season off to a winning start in the sport's most prestigious annual event and claim crucial Olympic and Paralympic points.
Lining up in the men's elite category will be 10 of the world's top-ranked triathletes. Heading the list is French World No.1 and world champion Leo Bergere who will be joined by Morgan Pearson of the USA and Belgium's World No.4 Jelle Geens – the men he beat to the podium top spot in Abu Dhabi in November. The star line-up continues with Tokyo Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt.
Fans can also look forward to watching World No.2, Tokyo Olympic silver medallist and Commonwealth champion Alex Yee (Great Britain), World No.5 Vincent Luis of France, and World No.3 and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Hayden Wilde (New Zealand).
"I came to Abu Dhabi in November with a World Championship title in my sights. That race unfortunately didn't go to plan due to getting COVID just before the race. Now I'm more determined than ever to come back and top the podium in March,” said Hayden Wilde.
“I spent a lot of time in Abu Dhabi in the lead up to the race in November. The community, the facilities, the city – everything is perfect for me as a professional athlete to race at the highest level. I'm excited to come back!"
Flying the flag for the MENA region is Morocco's, Jawad Abdelmoula, who triumphed at last year's Africa Triathlon Championships and is the first MENA athlete to podium at a World Triathlon Championship Series event.
Headlining the women's elite category, which has attracted 24 national federations, is World No.2 Georgia Taylor-Brown. The 28-year-old Briton, a gold and silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics and Commonwealth silver medalist, will be aiming to go one step further after finishing second in last year's World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi in November.
The Abu Dhabi race will also feature six more of the world's top-10 triathletes including World No.3 Taylor Spivey of the USA. She will face stern competition from Beth Potter, a bronze medallist at last year's Commonwealth Games, France's World No.8 Cassandra Beaugrand, World No.9 Sophie Coldwell of Britain and World No.10 Leonie Periault.
Former Abu Dhabi champion Rachel Klamer will be searching for another title in the UAE following her triumph in 2018. The event will also see the return of 2019 Abu Dhabi race winner and former world champion Katie Zaferes who will be appearing in her first race after giving birth. The American, whose CV includes an individual bronze and silver in the mixed relay at the Tokyo Games, is looking forward to competing again.
The 33-year-old said, “Abu Dhabi is a place that is special to me – my win there in 2019 greatly contributed to my World Title, so I can't wait to get back! This will be my first World Triathlon Series race since having my little boy, Kimble. I have been training really hard over the last few months to be in the best possible shape, and it will serve as good preparation for the rest of the year. It's a fierce field of ladies on the start line, but I'm ready for the challenge and determined to give my best.”
In the Para races, fans will be delighted to watch Tokyo Paralympic stars such as Eva Maria Moral Pedrero, bronze medalist in the super contested PTWC class, returning to competition after giving birth to a baby girl. Also lining up in the Para triathlon cup will be Tokyo bronze medallist in the PTS4 class Alejandro Sanchez Palomero.
Next month's edition will be the eighth year that Abu Dhabi has hosted this major global event. Alongside the elite and para races, the event will feature multiple different community race categories for adults and children.
Aref Al Awani, General-Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said, “To have an elite field of this strength - that includes Olympic, World and Commonwealth champions – is a clear indication of how highly regarded the Abu Dhabi event is on the global World Triathlon calendar. These athletes also play a vital role in inspiring the local community – giving our age group athletes the chance to race on the same weekend as their heroes is just one reason that this event is so special.
He added, “Staging the World Triathlon Series race once again strengthens Abu Dhabi's position as a leading global sporting destination and is part of our long-term strategy in growing the sport and inspiring people to adopt a healthy lifestyle that will benefit them in their everyday lives.”
Open to the community, the Age Group race categories are designed to appeal to athletes of all ages and abilities – from first-time triathletes looking for a new challenge; to seasoned triathletes looking for a new personal record; to junior athletes from six years old and above. In an exciting development, the event will also act as qualifier for athletes looking to represent Team UAE at the Age Group World Championships in September.
The free-to-enter event village is another attraction – jam-packed with family-friendly entertainment and activities for all to enjoy.
"It's fantastic to see another world-class elite athlete field coming to race in Abu Dhabi this March. Welcoming athletes of this calibre from around the world is a true inspiration for the local community and is one of the reasons triathlon is growing in popularity in the country,” said Khaled Al Fahim, President of the UAE Triathlon Federation.