World champions Vicky Holland and Mario Mola, as well as Katie Zaferes, have stated how ready they are for action ahead of this weekend’s Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2019.
The event, taking place from March 8-9, is the season-opener of the ITU’s Global World Triathlon Series, and will welcome the strongest elite field ever witnessed in Abu Dhabi – 112 athletes including nine of the world’s top 10 females and the full roster of men’s top 10 athletes.
The field, representing 27 countries from around the world, is highly decorated with Olympic and World Championship medals.
Spanish star Mario Mola spoke ardently about the event and how he’s primed and ready for the start gun: “This is the first race of the year, so I’m hoping to have a solid swim, ride and run.
“With every season we try to be consistent and this first race is always important: winning here is also very special for me. But that’s the past – I’m now ready and prepared for the future.
“With every race counting towards our total points for the Tokyo Olympics, we must aim for strong finishes to gain maximum points.”
Alongside Mola, Briton Holland spoke about the potential pressure of being world champion.
“Well 2018 was an interesting year for me. Despite falling short of my aim at the Commonwealth Games in April last year, every race after I was getting better and better,” she said.
“The Grand Final race, certainly between myself and Katie (Zaferes) was fantastic for us as athletes but also for spectators too; it was a great way to win the world title.
“So coming in (to Abu Dhabi) as a world champ, the only pressure I feel is on myself. It’s great to come in with this title and it’s something I’m really proud of, but I don’t think that will change how I race – I’m focusing on that podium spot once again.”
The Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi will feature five categories: the Elite Individual Men’s and Women’s races, the Elite Mixed Relay race, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi triathlon race, age grouper races and junior races.
The age grouper races allow amateur triathletes to compete as individuals or as part of a team, across a variety of distances: Super Sprint (400m swim, 10km cycle, 2.5km run); Sprint (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) and Olympic (1,500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run).
As well as being the largest triathlon in the Middle East, the 2019 event is also set to become the most inclusive in history, as athletes participating in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are set to compete.
Thirty-three Special Olympics athletes from 14 nations are registered, including two athletes from the Special Olympics UAE team. The triathlon event marks the first sports competition of the much-anticipated World Games.
As well as Abu Dhabi winning the right to host the ITU Grand Final in 2022, event organisers also announced this year the new name and headline sponsor, Daman.
The 2019 edition has seen impressive growth in amateur participation numbers, as well as the addition of the Elite Mixed Relay World Series for the first time; this category will make its debut at the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Speaking about the growth of the event and the future of the sport in the UAE, HE Aref Al Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “This weekend we are set to host world champions, 2,000 amateur triathletes, 33 Special Olympics World Games athletes and 600 junior athletes – fantastic proof of how inclusive the wonderful sport of triathlon is.
“And of course, we are also looking forward to hosting the ITU’s Grand Final in 2022 – an event where world champions are crowned in both the elite and amateur categories. The Grand Final will welcome over 10,000 competitors to Abu Dhabi generating significant economic impact for the city, and inspiring the next generation of triathletes from our community. Steps to prepare for the Grand Final have already begun.”
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