ABU DHABI: Some of the world’s leading triathletes are set to compete in the World Triathlon Championship Finals on Yas Island here from Nov. 23 to 26, the organizers have revealed.
The event has been organized by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, in cooperation with the World Triathlon Championships organization and Daman.
The announcement was made during a press conference held at the ADSC headquarters, in the presence of Aref Al-Awani, secretary general of the body; Mohamed Al-Zaabi, CEO of Miral Asset Management; Gary Marcia, director of the World Triathlon Championships; and Hayden Wilde, world number one and Olympic medalist from New Zealand.
Al-Awani welcomed all the athletes who will participate in the World Triathlon Championship Finals 2022 Abu Dhabi, by Daman, which, for the first time is being held in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Since 2015, we have hosted a series of international triathlon championships, and have organized community races for all ages and abilities, which has led to a significant growth in interest in the sport of triathlon, while reflecting our quest to promote sports to improve the quality of life and well-being,” Al-Awani said. We expect the community races in the upcoming championship to attract thousands of participants across the various distances.”
“We are proud to host such a prestigious tournament, which reflects the confidence of the major global sports federations and authorities in Abu Dhabi’s ability to host major international sporting events,” he added.
Three current Tokyo Olympic medalists will be in action: Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, who won gold in Tokyo, and pipped Britain’s Alex Lee for silver, and New Zealand’s Wilde who claimed bronze in the 2020 Summer Olympics. However, Wilde has now leapfrogged those two to find himself No. 1 in the world rankings, with Yee not far behind in fourth.
Sandwiched between them are the second-ranked Frenchman Leo Bergere, this season’s European Champion, and third-ranked Jelle Geens — the man who took gold at the 2021 World Triathlon Abu Dhabi event.
European dominance of the men’s top 10 is evident. Two other Frenchmen, Pierre Le Corre and Vincent Luis — Olympic relay medalist — are ranked fifth and seventh respectively, with Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca (sixth), Germany’s Lasse Luhrs (eighth), and Spain’s Antonio Serrat Seoane (ninth), completing a strong continental contingent. The only non-European other than Wilde is Australian Matthew Hauser who is ranked 10.
In the women’s event, Flora Duffy took gold in Tokyo and will be hot on the heels of the current world No. 1 Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain — the woman she pushed into silver medal position in Japan. Bermuda’s Duffy also took gold in Abu Dhabi last year and will be looking to add to her long list of accomplishments that includes multiple world titles and Commonwealth gold.
Great Britain will bring a typically strong lineup to Abu Dhabi, headed by world No. 1 Georgia Taylor-Brown, along with fourth-ranked Beth Potter, and seventh-ranked Sophie Coldwell. The US will also have three of the world’s top 10 on display in the form of fifth-ranked Taylor Spivey, along with Taylor Knibb and Kirsten Kasper, who are ninth and tenth in the standings, respectively.
France’s Cassandre Beaugrand is currently third in the world female rankings and Tokyo bronze relay medalist, and another big threat in Abu Dhabi, while the remainder of the world’s top 10 females is filled by Germans Laura Lindemann (fifth), and Anabell Knoll (eighth).
“It’s going to be a great competition between myself and Alex Yee,” Wilde said. “It’s like the Hamilton and Verstappen race and I’m really looking forward to it. Whoever crosses the line will take the championship world title. We’ve had a great rivalry, so to unite and finish in Abu Dhabi is awesome. Hopefully we can put on an exciting show.”
Other notable male competitors include Gustav Iden who made a splash at the 2022 Ironman World Championships by claiming victory and setting a new course record. He is also a two-time winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship — one of only six men in history who have managed to claim the title more than once — and took eighth place in the Tokyo Olympics.
Jonathan Brownlee, the only athlete with three Olympic medals under his belt — bronze in London 2012, silver in Rio 2016 and gold in Tokyo 2020 Mixed Relay — will also line up in Abu Dhabi.
There will also be some strong MENA interest, when Jawad Abdelmoula takes to the start line. The Moroccan is the first athlete from the region to podium at a WTS event and is coming to Abu Dhabi in good form having won the 2022 Africa Triathlon Championships Agadir in September.
Additionally, there will be a raft of other competition winners in Abu Dhabi. Rachel Klamer from the Netherlands, who picked up her first-ever WTS race win with gold in the UAE capital back in 2018, with the race contested over the sprint distance, will be in action, as will South Africa’s Henri Schoeman. The 31-year-old is a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and also made the podium at the Rio Olympics in 2016 — but local fans will also recognize him as the man who won in uncharacteristically rainy conditions at the World Triathlon Abu Dhabi in 2017. Spain’s Mario Mola, a three-time winner in Abu Dhabi as well as a former world champion, will also join the field.
The race routes start with a swim in the waters of Yas Bay, before the competitors head out across Yas Island on their bikes, with the new cycling routes passing through key landmarks including Yas Beach, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and Yas Plaza. The all-important run to the finish line then takes place along the waterfront.