*** ----> Bahrain set for Ironman spectacle | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain set for Ironman spectacle

TDT | Manama                                                       

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Some of the world’s biggest triathletes are ready and eager to get racing in the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain 2023, set to take place tomorrow. Pro men Alistair Brownlee from the UK and Gregory Barnaby from Italy, and pro women Amelia Watkinson from New Zealand and Kat Matthews from the UK, yesterday expressed their delight to be in the Kingdom for the prestigious endurance event, and are each determined to make their mark.

The quartet are part of a field of more than 60 professionals from the 1,600 athletes representing 88 countries who are taking part in the race, which begins with a 1.9-kilometre swim, followed by a 90km cycle and ending with a 21.1km run. The four contenders spoke yesterday in the pre-event Press conference.

“It’s great to be here racing, been here for quite a few years now and raced in various elements of the relay, but it’s brilliant to be on the start line; it’s something I’ve wanted to do before so I’m looking forward to the race on Friday,” said Brownlee, who is a two-time triathlon gold-medalist from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“I’m here because I love training, I love competing, and I love being along that start line,” he added. “I’ve had a long career in triathlon and endurance sport. Many people keep telling me it might be time to do something else, but ultimately, why would you if it’s still what gets you up in the morning?”

Brownlee will face some stiff competition from a top-class field, one that includes Barnaby, who has the honour of wearing the number one bib in tomorrow’s event. “It’s my first time wearing bib one; the pressure is on,” Barnaby said. “It feels a bit strange [having number one with other champions here, but I am ready for this race and I am looking forward to it.”


Barnaby honoured his fellow-competitor Brownlee and described him as “an icon of the sport”. “Alistair is someone I always looked up to,” he added. “It is amazing to be here racing against him. “It’s going to be a really fast race from the beginning. I will need to be concentrated and ready and give my best.”

Watkinson is hoping for some positive results in her return to Bahrain. “I’m really excited to finish the season on a high,” she said. “Winning is a big part of it, but hopefully we have a really good women’s race.

“It’s a pleasure to be here. A lot will come down to the swim and the bike, and I think it will be a good race.”Matthews commented: “This race feels like a real gift at this time of the year.” Also in attendance at yesterday’s conference were officials from race sponsor Bapco Energies. In addition to the conference, a welcome banquet was held last night, attended by a number of high-ranking officials and the participating athletes.

Prior to tomorrow’s main event, the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain will feature a race for children starting at 3.15pm today, entitled Iron Kids. An expo, held on the sidelines of the event, is also already open to the public.

The Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain is amongst the biggest events aimed at promoting the Kingdom, in line with the goals of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2023, especially regarding efforts to make Bahrain a host of mega sporting championships, which will contribute to boosting the tourism sector. Tomorrow’s event is scheduled for a 6am start. The opening swimming stage starts at the water in front of Reef Island.

The ensuing bike course will transition from Reef Island and pass iconic landmarks such as the Bahrain World Trade Centre and Bahrain International Circuit, before heading back to the same location. The run will then begin from Reef Island and it will lead athletes towards Bahrain Financial Harbour and back to Reef Island in the heart of the city. The awards ceremony and banquet are scheduled for 7.30pm tomorrow night.