More than 250 children descended on the Corniche as the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon weekend got off to a vibrant start with its junior event.
Watched on by Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee, children from around the UAE and beyond swam, biked and ran round the East Plaza course in record numbers.
For Egyptian professional triathlete Omar Nour, Friday's races play a vital role in the entire meeting.
"This is the most important part of the weekend," the 35-year-old said. "It is great to see the next generation of triathletes in action in Abu Dhabi."
The Junior Triathlon was split into two races, with Madison Lowndes and Claudio Cellie claiming victory in the respective boys' and girls' 13-16-years-old category, and Rayhaan Guerni and Jasmine Gray finishing first in the 9-12-year-olds events.
For the older teenagers, Starfish RGH, Starfish JSJ and Dauntless triumphed in the team relay's female, male and mixed respective competitions.
Hurricanes, Wild Olympians and Starfish EV emerged victorious in the younger section's female, male and mixed races.
Australian Gray was thrilled with her success. "It was tough, but I am really happy," she said. "I did not expect to do this well, I am really proud."
The action began at 8:30am, with Brownlee setting off the hooter for the 13-16-years-olds who competed in a 300m swim, 9km bike ride and 2.5km run. They were soon followed by the exuberant 9-12-year-olds, whose aquathon saw them battle for glory over a 200m swim and a 2km run.
Urged on by a packed crowd of family and friends in the fan zone, the kids barrelled into the glistening Corniche waters and were soon fighting for position. Once back on dry land, they were met by 2012 ADIT long-distance champion Rasmus Henning, who offered a helping hand in the transition area as the 13-16-year-olds swapped their swimming costumes for their bikes and the 9-12-year-olds prepared for the final sprint to the finish line.
A perfect warm-up for Saturday's main event then came to an end with an awards ceremony hailing the achievements of the youngsters who took part.
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