Participants from 51 countries will descend on Abu Dhabi this weekend for the fourth annual ITU World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi presented by Daman’s ActiveLife – the opening race and pinnacle of the World Triathlon Series calendar.
As Abu Dhabi reaffirms its position as the sporting capital of the Middle East, participants from countries including; Australia, Japan, Argentina, Greece, Hungary, Sweden, India, Hong Kong, Slovakia, Cyprus and many more will rub shoulders with World and Olympic champions as they take on one of the series’ most picturesque courses. This year’s race – hosted for the fourth year by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council – will once again see competitors take on the infamous Yas Island course, giving triathletes the unique opportunity to take in some of the islands’ most stunning landmarks, as well as cycling on the world famous Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1TM Etihad Airways Grand Prix Abu Dhabi.
The annual event will also make history this year as the most inclusive and diverse triathlon to ever take place in the UAE. To date, WTS Abu Dhabi 2018 has seen over 2,000 adult sign ups and a further 500 junior entrants – adding to the record number of elites who are set to participate including; Olympic medallist Jonathan Brownlee, World Champions Mario Mola and Flora Duffy, Paralympic Gold medallist Andy Lewis and reigning WTS Abu Dhabi champion, Andrea Hewitt.
Speaking at today's pre-race press conference, Andrea Hewitt said; “It's exciting to be back here in Abu Dhabi. Last year was a really special win so I'm looking forward to racing on Friday. I've been here a few days working with the Tri Belles and meeting some young female triathletes from the UAE and it's pretty exciting to see these triathletes coming through in the Middle East and I'll be down there on Saturday supporting the age groupers too."
As the only ITU World Triathlon Series race in the Middle East, the event has seen increased participation in a number of categories. “The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi is firmly established as one of the highlights on the region’s sporting calendar – both as a community driver and in terms of the international attention it brings to the emirate,” said Talal Al Hashemi, Director of Technical Affairs at ADSC, speaking at today’s race week press conference. “Now in its fourth year, the event boasts a stellar field with over 100 of the world's best triathletes ready to take on their first race of the season – a 21% increase on last year’s elite participation. What is also heartening is the increase in the numbers of women participating in our community races this year – a 6% increase on 2017. The ever-increasing interest in the sport, from the grassroots level up, is a positive reflection of the bright future ahead for the sport in the region,” His Excellency added.
The introduction of new categories – including a dedicated wave for Para athletes – has been a welcome addition, whilst the race will also see Special Olympics World Games triathletes compete for the first time. Commenting on the inclusivity of this year’s race Team GB’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Gold medallist Andy Lewis said; "I'm honoured to be here. To everyone involved with the triathlon, the race organisers and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, it is an absolute privilege to be invited because I really want to show Abu Dhabi and the rest of the world that Para triathletes train just as hard as the elite able bodied. Inclusivity is really important to me and it's important for people to see what we do. I look up to many of the elites competing, but it's really the kids competing that inspire me." Commenting on this weekend's race, he added; "This year I'll be competing in a mixed-relay with Becky Anderson from CNN. I've never done the relay, but it's really exciting for me because I'll be racing with the able bodied, in a big wave!"
WTS Abu Dhabi will also welcome hundreds of children to Yas Island as part of the junior race category, whilst children as young as two years old are confirmed to take part in the mini 1km.
“The fourth annual ITU World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi is returning, and this year is certainly going to be the biggest and most importantly – the most inclusive triathlon event the Middle East has ever seen,” commented Event Director, Gary Marescia. “We approached this race with a feeling of inclusivity and accessibility – together with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the International Triathlon Union and our presenting partner Daman, we feel that everyone should be able to enjoy our incredible sport and that there should be no boundaries to our competition. The awareness, interest and increased participation at sports events here in the UAE is great testament to the growth of sport, in particular triathlon, and we look forward to welcoming the world to Abu Dhabi this weekend.”