The Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2019 has seen record entries this year with entrants for this year’s edition already up by 19% in comparison to 2018. The event which is expected to sell out at 2,500 amateur triathletes is already close to full capacity, with some categories already sold out and with entries likely to accelerate as March draws nearer.
The event, which is the season-opener of the ITU’s global World Triathlon Series, has seen impressive growth in participation since its inauguration in 2015 - from 1,600 to 2,500 amateur participants - a 56% increase. This makes it the biggest triathlon in the Middle East. Furthermore, it will play host to the first sports competition of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and hosts dedicated waves for para-athletes, making it the most inclusive triathlon in the Middle East.
The Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi will feature five categories: Elites, the Special Olympics World Games triathlon race, Age groupers 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) – a new entry category, launched for 2019, to encourage first-time triathletes to give the sport a try.
- Sprint (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run)
- Olympic (1,500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run)
The Olympic category has so far attracted the highest amount of interest in regards to participation; however both the Sprint and the brand new Super Sprint categories are also both selling well.
Encouragingly for the development of the sport in the community, Junior Entries are up by an impressive 137% on 2018. This includes the highly popular Mini 1km Family Fun Run, which is free to enter and open to all, including mums and dads pushing strollers. The 1km Family Fun Run will be led by Team Angel Wolf, the inspirational Watson family who are on a mission to raise awareness of people (especially children) with disabilities and how they can be included in the community through sport.
A major draw for amateur participants is the Daman Challenge Triathlon programme, now in its second year, organized by title sponsor Daman. The Daman Challenge is a three month training programme that guides both new and seasoned participants through a fitness programme to ensure they are fully prepared for the blue carpet. The free programme gives participants access to the region’s best coaches through partnerships with Speedo, Yas Cycles and On Running, during the three month build-up. This year the programme has seen its capacity doubled from 2018 as the programme has also been introduced in Dubai for the first time, reaching full capacity within 45 minutes of opening entries. The programme has been split for first-timers and performance entrants to allow it to be more inclusive.
Commenting on the growth in participants for both the Daman Challenge and the main event, Dr Michael Bitzer, Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Company - Daman, said: “The enthusiasm, not just the interest, on show from those joining The Daman Challenge in Dubai for the first time, and in Abu Dhabi for the second year running is quite heartening . In Abu Dhabi, we are witnessing with excitement how this training programme has growing into one of the most sought-after in two short years. The Daman Challenge is the perfect training ground ahead of the event in March, and the fact that it welcomes both first-timers and seasoned triathletes encompasses Daman’s belief that being active is for all, irrespective of age or ability. Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi is surely poised to entertain spectators, but more importantly inspire them to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Another reason that the Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi is so popular with amateur participants is because the event offers these athletes a rare experience, as they get to race on the same weekend and the same course as the world’s greatest triathletes who take part in the Elite division, all set to the backdrop of Yas Marina Circuit and the impressive Yas Island.
As well as the elite men’s and women’s individual race, which sees 110 of the world’s best go head-to-head for precious Olympic qualifying points, the 2019 event has an exciting development in the elite race, with the introduction of the Mixed Relay. This fast and furious format of racing sees a team of 4 elite athletes (2 men, 2 women), complete a relay race – each athlete completing a 300m swim, 6.6km bike and 1km run – before tagging in their teammate. The new format of triathlon racing, which brings a team element into the usually individual sport, will make its Abu Dhabi debut this coming March and its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020.
Speaking about the strong level of entries ahead of March, H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), said: “It’s fantastic to see the strong response to this year’s 2019 Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi,” explained Al Awani. “It is looking likely that we’ll reach our 2,500 triathlete capacity well ahead of schedule and I am particularly proud of the strong interest shown in the junior race categories. We have athletes from over 35 countries currently signed up, with some of the strongest amateur sign-ups from countries here in the region including the UAE, Saudi and Kuwait. We feel encouraged that this two-day triathlon festival, which welcomes the world’s fiercest triathletes alongside amateurs, is inspiring more and more new joiners to participate in the sport of triathlon, regardless of age, fitness level, gender or background.”
For those interested in entering, or for more information, visit: www.abudhabi.triathlon.org