The UAE Triathlon Federation have outlined plans to significantly increase the number of active triathletes in the nation, including an aim to triple junior participation by 2019.
Triathlon has become an increasingly popular sport in the UAE, with the Emirates hosting a number of amateur and elite level competitions, including last weekend’s ITU World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi.
Lining up alongside the world's best triathletes, including eventual winners Andrea Hewitt and Javier Gomez, were more than 2,400 amateurs representing 52 countries, ranging in age from five to 74 years old.
There were 300 junior triathletes competing in Abu Dhabi, more than double the participants from the inaugural race in 2015. Additionally, for the first time, there were more amateur triathletes competing in the Olympic distance race than the Sprint race, a sign of how people are taking triathlon increasingly seriously.
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Khaled Al Fahim, Chairman of the UAE Triathlon Federation, has said that the UAE’s continued role as a premium venue for triathlon events will be integral to the sport’s continued growth in the region.
“A number of regional and international triathlon events have been established in the UAE in recent years. Events such as the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi provide a great platform to demonstrate the UAE’s burgeoning credentials as a triathlon centre of excellence which we hope will continue to spur interest in the sport locally,” Al Fahim said.
“It is important that we work together with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to invest in the sport from the grassroots levels up targeting both amateur athletes and youngsters. With the growing popularity of the junior events, we are aiming to triple the number of junior participants by 2019.
“Our role is to take triathlon far and wide in the UAE and reach out to youngsters, first timers, women and anyone who can greatly benefit from this wonderful sport.”
ITU President Marisol Casado has backed the ambitious plans of the UAE Triathlon Federation.
“Triathlon is one of the most dynamic sports out there and it is a flourishing sport due to how varied it is. With a UAE Triathlon Federation set in motion, the sport will reach out to even more local communities in the country which means more people will get to try out this wonderful sport,” Casado said.
“Triathlon has a strong appeal to many around the world because it combines three disciplines and always poses for an exciting challenge. I know the ITU World Triathlon elite athletes will inspire more people to participate. I am looking forward to seeing even larger numbers take to the start line in the future editions of the Abu Dhabi event.”
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