With just under one month to go until the World Triathlon Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi, presented by Daman, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and World Triathlon announced top international Olympic and Paralympic medalists confirmed to compete in November’s event, bringing world-class star power for spectators to enjoy in Abu Dhabi.
In a star-studded field for the men’s race, Abu Dhabi will welcome the full Tokyo Olympic male podium – Kristian Blummenfelt (Gold medalist from Norway), Alex Yee (Silver medalist from Great Britain) and Hayden Wilde (Bronze medalist from New Zealand) – who will go head-to-head for the World Champion Title from 23-26 November on Yas Island.
Since developing an early reputation for delivering sub-14-minute 5km run times, Yee is set to wow the crowds in next month’s sporting spectacle. A seriously strong contender, the 24 year old triathlete and distance runner won both the silver medal in the Men’s Triathlon and the gold medal in the Triathlon Mixed Relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He is also the 2022 Commonwealth Games Champion, and currently ranked world number two behind New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde, after winning three stages of the World Triathlon Championship Series this season.
Hailing from a mountain biking background, Hayden Wilde currently holds the world number one ranking. After winning in Montreal and Hamburg earlier this year, Wilde has chosen not to race the World Triathlon Series Cagliari and Bermuda races, the final two races in the series before the Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi. Instead, he will arrive in Abu Dhabi on 1 November to put in a solid training block in the capital, with the aim of taking home the World Champion title at the end of the month.
The 25 year old was two-time XTERRA U19 and World Triathlon U23 Cross Triathlon World Champion before making the change to full triathlon to chase his dream of competing at an Olympic Games. In 2021, Wilde achieved just that when he competed at the Tokyo Summer Olympics with an outstanding bronze medal performance.
In 2021, Blummenfelt made sporting history by becoming the first male triathlete to win the Olympic and World Titles in the same year. A powerful biker with a fierce competitive edge, his relentless run surges steered him to his most successful season to date in 2021, starting with a brilliant win at WTCS Yokohama, ending in Championship Finals glory in Edmonton – and not forgetting a gold in Tokyo sandwiched in between.
Triathlon sensation Duffy started competing in triathlon at the tender age of seven and quickly moved up the ranks of the sport – and the World Triathlon Development programme – to become the first ever Bermudian Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo. With a seriously decorated sporting career, Duffy’s key achievements include 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games Champion, 2016, 2017, and 2021 World Champion and Tokyo Olympic Champion.
A regular in the Great Britain World Triathlon Series squad in 2018, Taylor-Brown earned her first podium at the top level at the World Triathlon Series, Leeds. Since then, her triathlon achievements have continued with a brilliant individual silver at Tokyo 2020 Olympics – despite getting a flat tyre on the final lap – and an incredible Triathlon Mixed Relay Olympic gold. She was also the World Champion in 2020 and is currently ranked in the first place of the World Triathlon Series Ranking, having won three races so far this season.
The only athlete missing from the female Olympic podium is the USA’s Katie Zaferes, who recently gave birth to her first child.
From the Paralympic podium is Netherlands’ athletic machine, Jetze Plat, who has gone undefeated in World Triathlon events since 2016, when he won both the Paralympic and World Championship titles. Also confirmed is USA’s Allysa Seely, a gold medalist at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Paralympics Games where she defended her title in the paratriathlon, and Kendal Gretsch, who has the unique distinction of winning gold medals in both Summer Paralympics and Winter Paralympics. Truly a sporting sensation, Gretsch is a triathlete, biathlete and cross-country skier and famously became a Paralympic champion on the women’s PTWC paratriathlon event when she defeated reigning world champion Lauren Parker to claim a gold medal.
Representing the Great Britain is four-time Paralympic athlete, Lauren Steadman, who has competed in both swimming and the paratriathlon.
Susana Rodriguez Gacio, the Spanish four-time world champion in paratriathlon and a Paralympic gold medalist in paratriathlon is also set to compete, as well as French native Alex Hanquinquant, who claimed a gold medal in the Men’s PTS4 event in the 2020 Summer Paralympics, and Martin Schulz from Germany who represented his country at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Paralympics in paratriathlon, winning gold medal in the Men’s PT4 and PTS5 events.
Commenting on his participation in the upcoming Championships Finals, world number one, Wilde said: ‘‘The last few years have been incredible. Winning an Olympic medal is a unique feeling few have the privilege of experiencing. Behind this achievement was a long journey, and countless hours of training but any lover of this sport will understand that triathlon is well worth it.
‘‘This year I took home silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Game, so what better way to end the year being crowned World Champ in Abu Dhabi? The competition is going to be fierce – especially from Alex (Yee). We’ve enjoyed some great battles on the racecourse so I can’t wait to go head-to-head again! I’ve chosen to prepare for the World Championships by coming to Abu Dhabi for a month prior to the race – I’ve heard that the training facilities are amazing, so I’m hoping it’ll be the perfect lead up for me to take home a world title.”
Flora Duffy said: “I am motivated and excited at the potential battle for the world title in Abu Dhabi. For that kind of Grand Final to materialize, I first need a good score in Bermuda. Georgia (Taylor-Brown) more than deserves her top spot, and I’m the underdog at this point hoping to make it exciting. This season has been a strange one, long with many ups and downs - post Olympics and some Covid challenges, some injury and middle-distance goals. I have fond memories from last year in Abu Dhabi, which I can draw on, and expect the atmosphere to be even bigger this year with more triathletes competing over the weekend”.
“Abu Dhabi is a very special place for us para triathletes. Last year’s World Championships here was really special. To have such a strong field in all para classes, with most of the Paralympic medallists coming to Abu Dhabi, is always great for our sport, as it is to have so many new athletes that are now performing at their best. It is great to be challenged by new and younger athletes, and the races in Abu Dhabi will be a great proof of what we are all capable of doing”, explained Susana Rodriguez.
With the countdown well and truly underway, thousands of international, local, and regional triathletes will take part across five categories: Elite Men & Women, Elite U23 Men & Women, Elite Para Men & Women, Age Group Men & Women (super sprint time trial distance, standard distance, and aqua bike), and the Community and Youth Races. Organised by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and World Triathlon, the competition strengthens Abu Dhabi’s position as a global sporting destination. Located within 8 hours’ flying time for two- thirds of the world’s population, the emirate is perfectly situated to welcome athletes, media, federations, and spectators alike to the pinnacle of the sport.