Brownlee brothers vow to 'put on a show' for spectators after confirming places in ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018
Double Olympic champion Alistair and younger brother Jonny to take part in WTS opener on Yas Island on March 2-3
The Brownlee brothers will headline the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi after confirming their participation for the World Triathlon Series opener on Yas Island in March.
Alistair, 29, won Olympic triathlon gold at the London 2012 Games and again four years later in Rio de Janeiro while Jonny, 27, took bronze behind him in London and silver at Rio.
“Abu Dhabi is an awesome location for the season-opening WTS race,” said Jonny Brownlee in a communique issued by the organisers.
“I raced on the Corniche course back in 2015 and am excited to check out the new course on Yas Island. The weather in March in Abu Dhabi will be perfect – a far cry from the conditions we have experienced in the UK this winter.
“Everyone knows that we both give 110 per cent when we race and Abu Dhabi will be no different. We’ll definitely be putting on a show for the crowds in March.”
The Brownlees have dominated the sport for over a decade and provided one of the most inspiring moments in sports history when Alistair helped his younger sibling across the finish line in the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final 2016 in Cozumel, Mexico.
Alistair added: “I'm definitely keen to get out there and race; the new course on the F1 track looks really good for a sprint distance race.
“I'm looking forward to toeing the line against a top field in Abu Dhabi to see where I am after coming back from injury. It's no secret that I'll be looking to be competitive, especially with the Commonwealth Games coming up in April.”
Last year's men's race was won by Javier Gomez Noya of Spain with Britain’s Thomas Bishop second and Vincent Luis of France completing the podium.
Organisers also confirmed that New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt will return to the capital on March 2-3 to defend her title.
“I’m delighted to be returning to Abu Dhabi this year, a place that holds some amazing memories for me following my first-place finish last year,” said Hewitt, who pipped Britain's Jodie Stimpson in an epic finish last year.
“The 2017 race was a turning point for me both personally and professionally. I had trained so hard, went into the race in good form and knew that I had a chance of doing well.
“It’s a really important year for me, especially with the Commonwealth Games in Australia this April.
“Although every race is different, it can be a huge boost to get the season off to a winning start and it helps create momentum going into your next race.”
This year’s event is set to draw more than 3,500 triathletes, including 120 of the world’s best as well as 500 juniors.
“Triathlon is a sport which encompasses everything we work hard to achieve here,” said Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
“It welcomes people from all walks of life – irrespective of age, gender, nationality or ability - to search for that unique sense of achievement."
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In addition to age group and junior races, organisers confirmed that the World Triathlon Abu Dhabi will feature dedicated waves for para-triathletes for the very first time.
Among them are Andy Lewis, the 2016 Rio Paralympic gold medallist from Britain and Moroccan Mohamed Lahna, who took bronze in Brazil two years ago.
The fourth staging of the ITU World Triathlon is a test event for the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
“It’s the largest humanitarian event that year with more than 7,000 athletes from 175 countries will be participating,” said Peter Wheeler, chief executive of the Special World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The Games will feature a total of 22 sports including triathlon which made its debut at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles.
Updated: January 28, 2018 04:27 PM