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All eyes were on Nice, France last weekend as triathletes from around the globe competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship with the Bahrain Endurance 13 (BE13) notching an array of glorious golden victories.
Daniela Ryf claimed a historic fifth consecutive Ironman 70.3 world championship and her teammates, Holly Lawrence and Alistair Brownlee, also took twin silvers.
Vincent Luis and Lauren Parker backed up from winning the ITU world titles in triathlon and Paratriathlon in Lausanne last week with golden finishes at the Banyoles World Cup.
Michael Gilliam, BE13’s team director and chief advisor for the Bahrain Olympic Committee, said: “Bahrain Endurance 13 is now the most successful professional triathlon team in the history of the sport, amassing an incredible 17 world championship titles since 2015.
“Four of the world’s best triathletes have been with the team since it was first formed by His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in 2015 – Javier Gomez, Jan Frodeno, Daniela and Terenzo Bozzone. During the past five years the roster has included many of the world’s best long and short course athletes.
“The most recent titles came from team debutants Luis securing his first World Triathlon Series win and Paratriathlon powerhouse Parker winning the PTWC World Championship title. Also taking part in the world championships were two emerging young Bahrain juniors Omar Ali and Abdulrahman Mubarak. They raced in the junior division and did themselves proud. It is a great testament to the flourishing triathlon talent in Bahrain.
“The teams’ performance ratio is an astounding 80 percent winning success at major championship races.”
According to Gilliam, who is also the health and wellness advisor to the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Youth and Sports and the Representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth and Sports Affairs, His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the honour roll of wins includes Ironman, ITU Long Course and ITU world championship titles.
He added: “It also includes HH Shaikh Nasser’s incredible win at the 2018 Ironman World Championship Kona in the Executive Division.
“We will continue to aim for wins at the major championships which provide us the platform to promote the vision of HH Shaikh Nasser on a global scale as well as a voice to express the importance of cultural awareness, breakdown barriers and often correcting people’s perceptions. His Highness is a very active leader and lives the endurance sport lifestyle. For the team, pursuing excellence is obviously the top priority and being the most successful endurance racing team in history.”
Ryf has been unstoppable all season long, which was apparent from the grit and determination she exerted during Ironman 70.3. Ryf finished in 4:23:04, four minutes ahead of Lawrence who came in second.
At the finish line, His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa draped the finisher medal around Ryf’s neck, while HH Shaikh Nasser awarded Lawrence hers.
Ryf said: “I don’t think it matters how many titles you have. Races like today matter. The girls were pushing really hard. I think the dynamic was amazing. In the end, I was happy to make a little gap on the downhill.
“Holly was pushing really hard and I knew I had to show a really good run today to be able to win. I got pushed to my absolute maximum and best. That’s what world championships are about and I’m really, really happy I could come home with the win today.”
Lawrence’s silver medal was a fitting reward for the hard work she had put in to come back from a career-threatening injury. She said, “If you’d have told me this time last year that in a year’s time this would happen when I was in the absolute worst state of my life with a broken foot and in boot and it really looked so grim… I’m just so happy.”
Brownlee, who was last year’s vice-champion, was one of the favourites going into the men’s race. His teammates, Ben Kanute and Javier Gomez, were also participating. On the run, Brownlee led the opening kilometers, but Norweigan Gustav Iden switched on the afterburners to beat him to the finish line by 2:44.
Gomez finished in 7th while Kanute rounded out the Bahrain Endurance 13 contingent in 10th place.
Meanwhile, Banyoles Triathlon World Cup in Spain attracted a stacked field with athletes making the short trip from Lausanne after last week’s Grand Final.
With the elite triathlon raced on a tight and technical course, there was not much separation in the 750m swim and the 20km bike. Out on the 5km run, Luis and training partner Mario Mola charged ahead to separate from the rest of the competitors. The two ran neck-and-neck until Luis put on a final sprint 100m to the tape. BE13 teammate Vicky Holland finished 7th in the female field.
Parker also picked up another piece of gold hardware at the Paratriathlon World Cup to wrap up what has been a stellar season.
In addition to the BE13 team line up, there were three Bahrain age group athletes taking part – Mikel Calahorra (M35-39), Mohammed Isa Alqais (M30-34) and May Alhaji (F35-39). The trio was inspired by the team.
Gilliam added: “This is the underlying mantra of the group – to inspire each other and push boundaries of competition and culture. It is a remarkable team and a remarkable vision and truly, for many of the world’s best athletes in the sport of triathlon, it is the hottest position to hold.
“To be a selected member of the 13 athletes who race for BE13 is enormous. These athletes are selected for multiple reasons and not just because of race results. They need to be ambitious, role models, great communicators and globally aware individuals. They do so much locally in the region and through their personal connections to help inspire and bring true lifestyle change to many young individuals in the GCC. Triathlon in the region is exploding off the back of this tremendous team and HH leadership.”
For further information on the team, visit www.bahrainendurance13.com