The attention of the rugby playing world may have been on New Zealand for 6 glorious weeks but get ready for an even wider reach of countries with an eye on the Auckland waterfront when the city hosts the Barfoot & Thompson ITU Triathlon World Cup on November 20.
An incredible 34 nations* are represented on the final start lists for the men’s and women’s elite World Cup events, from every continent and every corner of the globe, from Monaco to Bermuda, Brazil to Russia, Slovakia to Bahrain â€“ you name it, chances are that country will be represented when racing takes place around the Auckland waterfront and CBD on November 20.
The start list is nothing if not a reflection of the growing popularity of the sport of Triathlon world wide, thanks largely to the profile the sport enjoys at the Olympic Games and throughout the year with the World Champs and World Cup events.
Event CEO Dave Beeche says the world truly is coming to Auckland for this event.
â€œTriathlon is a rapidly growing sport in so many countries, both in terms of participation but also at the elite level. While some of the traditional heavyweights are to the forefront, we are seeing new flags being raised at medal ceremonies more and more often.
â€œThe beauty of the Barfoot & Thompson World Cup in Auckland is just how many countries that will be represented, with many of the athletes committing to Auckland thanks to our reputation as a host and organiser of great events.
â€œThe Rugby World Cup has only enhanced that reputation and indeed further opened the eyes of locals as to what it is they can do to be a part of international events on a large scale, either as volunteers or simply playing their part as spectators and friendly hosts. This will be another great platform for New Zealand and Auckland in particular to again proudly show itself off to the world, this time through triathlon.â€
Amongst the favoured athletes coming to Auckland are the likes of world number 7 Laurent Vidal (France), Matt Chrabot (USA), former world champion Ivan Rana (Spain) and of course a strong New Zealand contingent including Ryan Sissons, Bevan Docherty, Clark Ellice, Kris Gemmell, Tony Dodds, and James Elvery plus a host of young Kiwis looking to make their mark.
In the women’s race watch for a 9 strong Japanese team led by world number 16 Ai Ueda, former World Champion Vanessa Fernandes (Portugal), Vicky Holland (Great Britain), Erin Densham (Australia) while the New Zealanders will feature world number 2 Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy, Nicky Samuels, and a team of youngsters eager for experience on the world stage, including rising star and recently crowned World Junior Champion Mikayla Nielsen who will race a standard distance event for the first time in her fledgling career.
Beeche has no doubt that the reach of stories will be just as far reaching, with media organisations following their athletes and their results, even if from afar.
â€œThe reach of triathlon events around the world is huge, event organisers and the ITU will be filing written reports, providing news footage and images to media agencies all around the world. And with each story printed, each interview filed and each photograph published we are helping to promote Auckland, the waterfront and New Zealand as a welcoming and popular destination.â€
As well as the elite World Cup racing which will be covered live on TV and radio, the Auckland waterfront will play host to age group races over sprint and standard distances early in the morning with athletes looking to qualify for the 2012 ITU World Championships at the same venue in October next year.
Organisers are urging a big crowd to come in and watch the event but stressing to check for either public transport options or find a suitable CBD car park if driving in their own vehicle. Comprehensive event information can be found at www.triauckland.co.nz
*number of nations may be subject to change due to withdrawals and replacements