The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, presented by Daman, will present the highest standard of elite athlete field in the history of the race for this year’s 2020 edition. The full world’s top 10 male triathletes will compete in Abu Dhabi this year, whilst nine of the world’s top female triathletes will be heading to Yas Island for March 5 – 7. Overall, 180 elite triathletes and para-triathletes will be facing off for a highly contested series, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Double Olympic medallist Jonathan Brownlee will be diving into the course on Yas Island for this year’s race, looking for key qualification points to fulfil his Olympic aspirations. His brother, Alistair who recently announced he has his sights set on a third Olympic gold medal, is currently on the waiting list proving just how competitive this field is.
All of the previous Abu Dhabi men’s champions – Javier Gomez, Henri Schoeman, and the three-time winner, Mario Mola – will be returning to the capital, alongside the reigning world champion, Vincent Luis. The triathlon will also welcome young talent, such as Alex Yee, who came second in Abu Dhabi last year, at the age of 21, offering fresh challenges for established and emerging triathletes in this year’s field.
Speaking of his upcoming participation in the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, three-time Abu Dhabi champion and three-time World Champion, Mario Mola commented: “This is a big year for us all. I’m excited to get back on the blue carpet and see how competitive I am ahead of the Games this summer. I’ve always loved racing on the biggest stages, and Abu Dhabi is a particular favourite of mine, having won here three times. Winning again for a fourth time would be such an amazing way to start my 2020 season.”
Nine of the world’s top ten female triathletes will be participating in the 2020 Women’s Field, demonstrating the level of talent taking part this coming March. Katie Zaferes, the reigning world champion and Abu Dhabi defending champion, will lead the pack, alongside four of the five previous Abu Dhabi winners: Rachel Klamer, Andrea Hewitt and Jodie Stimpson. Triathlon legend, Flora Duffy, will make her return to the water at Yas Island, after an injury filled 2018 and 2019. She will be joined by the bronze and silver winners of the 2016 Olympic Podium, Nicola Spirig and Vicky Holland, showcasing the level of competition to be found this year in Abu Dhabi.
Two-time ITU World Champion, five-time Xterra World Champion, two-time ITU Cross World Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Flora Duffy, said: “Counting down the weeks to Abu Dhabi. It’s become the annual off-season goal that you keep visualizing. Being the first WTS race of an Olympic year it will be extra intense, with the best of the best toeing the line looking to make an impression. Abu Dhabi is a great course for me personally – a technical, fast bike course on the F1 circuit that enhances my racing style – and after crashing out the last time I raced here, I feel like I’ve got an agenda in Abu Dhabi!”
The field for the inaugural Abu Dhabi ITU Paratriathlon World Cup contains 70 spots, with a total of 12 classes for para-triathletes competing in the field. Participants this year will include Jetze Plat, who took gold in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, and Martin Schulz, who took gold in the 2016 Paralympics. Also participating will be Finnish Liisa Lilja, winner of the 2017 Edmonton ITU World Paratriathlon Series; French-man Alexis Hanquinquant, current World Champion; Spaniard Susana Rodriguez, who is also the PTVI World Champion; and Sebastian Engwald from Denmark who lives and trains in the UAE. Abdullah Al Ghafri and Bader Abbas from the UAE are on the waiting list and hoping to get a place on the start line.
Sebastian Engwald, who lost his leg in a boat accident and now races as a para-triathlete, commented: “I’ve always wanted the chance to race in front of a home-crowd for Paralympic points and now I will! It’s going to be amazing. As a para-athlete, we travel a lot and we don’t often have people that we know cheering us along, so I’m really looking forward to having my wife, my new baby and my friends in the grand-stands! This race is a key Paralympic qualifier event – so it’s all about getting on that podium. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, commented: “What an incredible line-up. With 2020 being an Olympic year, we knew that the elite fields would be strong – but this calibre of field is rarely seen outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games! It’s going to be an incredible spectacle for those in the grand-stands and the millions watching on TV around the world. Whether you are a triathlon fan, a volunteer, a technical official, a spectator or simply looking for a great weekend out with your family, I strongly encourage you to witness this incredible 3 days of sport, taking place from 5 – 7 March.
“Of course, during the event this year, we will also be looking forward to the 2022 ITU World Championship which will be hosted in Abu Dhabi in two years’ time. Winning the hosting rights for this key milestone on the global triathlon calendar is testament to the hard-work and dedication which we and our stakeholders, including the ITU, the UAE Triathlon Association, Daman, and other valued partners, have put into the development of this wonderful sport in Abu Dhabi.”
Alongside the elite races, there are also race categories for 3,000 amateur triathletes and junior triathletes who have the unique chance to race on a similar course and on the same weekend as the world’s best.
Hamad Al Mehyas, Deputy CEO of Daman, the presenting partner of the event added, “The incredible elite athlete field confirmed to race at the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi presented by Daman is guaranteed to inspire the local community to get involved. And with 19 race categories available, including duathlon race options, there are more ways than ever for the community to participate. We look forward to welcoming over 3,000 athletes of all ages and all abilities to Yas Island from 5 – 7 March. Supporting events like these, that inspire the community to get active and live a healthy lifestyle, fall perfectly in-line with Daman’s vision.”
The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi will run from 5 – 7 March 2020. To see the full elite athlete fields