Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team leader Faris Al Sultan is calling for more Emiratis to take part in the sport of triathlon, reminding the public that this was one of the main reasons Team Abu Dhabi was set up in the first place – to promote and develop the sport in the region from a grassroots level.
While 817 registered participants for Saturday’s Abu Dhabi International Triathlon are based in the UAE, the majority are from the expat community. Figures have considerably increased from previous years, but 2005 Ironman World Champion Al Sultan – who regularly runs triathlon training camps in the capital – would like to see more locals among them.
“I still think that we could get some more locals to do it [the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon],” he said. “What we have increased already is the number of expats of the GGC that take part and the triathlon communities in Kuwait, in Qatar, and in the UAE are growing rapidly. I mean, I was racing two weeks ago in Sri Lanka and most of the guys I already knew from races here.
“Still, there could be a little bit better development on the locals, but we’re getting there and this event here adds so much profile to triathlon that I really do think that we’ll attract some more guys. There are already a lot of locals in the cycling scene and we hope to get these guys over to triathlon.”
The third edition of the race – which has athletes competing from 62 countries including Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago – marks the first time an Arab woman – Iraqi Yasmin Wadhai, who has competed in larger scale endurance events such as the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge – will be competing over the long distance race.
On this Al Sultan commented: “Of course [I’m pleased]. Why shouldn’t the Arabs and the locals here not enjoy the sport? I mean, there are a few guys here that are professional and do it for a living – and we also enjoy it (not all of the time, but most of the time) – but most of the age groupers are simply here to enjoy themselves and I think why should that be restricted to anybody, including the locals?”
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