Gemma Brown welcomed the UAE Triathlon Federation’s League as a “great incentive” giving expatriates the chance to compete under the country’s flag at international competitions.
The former Wales hockey international emerged as winner of the women’s super sprint in the opening race of the inaugural UAE Triathlon League at the Hudayriat Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The League consists of eight races across the different emirates with ranking points awarded to the top five placed men’s and women’s open categories, and the triathletes with the highest ranking points becoming eligible to represent the UAE.
“It’s a great incentive and unique opportunity for expatriate triathletes like us to represent the UAE,” Brown, a teacher at Repton School in Abu Dhabi, told The National.
“I have been doing the triathlons since 2017 when I moved to Abu Dhabi. I use to play international field hockey back in the UK. Moved out here for my teaching career.
“I tried triathlons and fell in love. I train four times a week and I'm returning after an injury. Happy to win today and looking forward to take part in many races in the league.”
Ajman will host the second race on Sunday followed by Dubai-Al Mamzar (Oct 23), Fujairah (Nov 12), Sharjah (Nov 13), Ghantoot (Nov 20), Ras Al Khaimah (Jan 15) and the final race at Dubai-Al Mamzar on March 12.
Mohammed Aifan took the men’s sprint while Fabien Rencuret and Chris Sellar bagged the duathlon Olympic and duathlon sprint respectively.
The opening race of the league drew more than 100 athletes and another participant was Samir Yousuf, a teacher from New Zealand, and his four sons – Oliver (13), Lachlan (11), Jordan (9) and Conor (6).
“We represent the Athletic Academy Abu Dhabi and like many others in today’s race are delighted be a part of this historic occasion,” Yousuf, 46, who participated in the Masters category, said.
“I have been living here for 15 years and aside from my elder boy the others were born in Abu Dhabi. They are all into athletics and this triathlon league gives them a solid platform to pursue in the sport.”