Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Our sport shined under the Altafulla sun

Last weekend I had the chance to enjoy a wonderful weekend of triathlon in Altafulla, near Tarragona. Perfect weather, stunning beaches and the warm support from thousands of spectators along with the local government, who made it possible to celebrate in Altafulla the Paratriathlon World Cup, as well as the Mediterranean Championships and the European Cup. The races had a large number of international athletes competing, along with races that saw plenty of Spanish athletes on the podium.

During the weekend, Altafulla also hosted the General Assembly of the Mediterranean Association of Triathlon, in which George Yerolimpos was re-elected President, and Alicia Garcia became Vice President. Way to go for this young association, who has been very busy organising more events, and will now be taking care of some wonderful triathlon events at the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona.

Altafulla also served as a test event for the Mediterranean Games, which will be hosted in Tarragona in 2018 and will have Triathlon for the first time ever. Just by watching the atmosphere of the whole town and the involvement of the mayor of Altafulla, Felix Alonso, you can easily see that the Mediterranean Games are going to be fantastic. They provide an excellent set up for the races and have been hosting triathlon events for the last few years, every year increasing the challenges and exceeding the final results. Congratulations to all involved in the events, and thanks so much for the support you and your city is giving to our sport.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

World Transplant Games in Malaga

This Sunday, I had the privilege to participate, representing the International Olympic Committee, on the Opening Ceremony of the World Transplant Games, hosted in the stunning Plaza de Toros de Málaga, in Spain. Speaking on behalf of IOC President, Mr Thomas Bach, I was able to witness first hand the great atmosphere of this wonderful sporting event, in which transplanted athletes and some donors perform together.

During the whole week, more than 2,500 athletes from 52 counties will inspire every single one of us. It is a time for them to shine and excel in the sport they love so much, but most of all, these Games are a confirmation of the power of sport to unite us all. In sport, everyone is equal, no matter who you are or what your background is.

As we all know, sport can change lives and brings out the best in us. This is why, for all of us, the WTG is a celebration of humanity and a celebration of life. Every single athlete in attendance is an inspiration that anyone can lead full, energetic and healthy lives. They are the best ambassadors to show us all that illness can be overcome. Through sport, they have found resilience and strength to overcome any obstacle. Their athletic success demonstrates the enabling role that sport can play for people everywhere to lead active and fulfilling lives. And they remind us all that the true meaning of a champion is about so much more than winning.

Most of all, these athletes are proof that the joy of sport is truly universal. The joy of sport knows no boundaries. The joy of sport is all about the Olympic values of excellence, respect and solidarity.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thank you!

I’m sure you all know the fantastic news that the Mixed Relays have been officially included in the Programme for the Olympic Games, starting already in Tokyo 2020. I really wanted to thank you all for the great efforts you all put into this. I always say that there is no ‘i’ in team, and the triathlon family showed the whole world that we are now more than ever a team, and our teams will also be present in Tokyo and all future Olympic Games, as they already are in the Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games, Asian Games, Mediterranean Games and PanAmerican Games.

This has been a great and long journey. We first thought of including the Mixed Relays in the Olympics almost 15 years ago, and right after the London 2012 Games we started working with the IOC in order to get a third event included in the Olympics. This couldn’t happen in Rio due to external conditions, but it was finally a dream come true this past week.

What makes it more special is that the inclusion is not only the result of the push and commitment of the whole ITU management team, but also for all our stakeholders. It was the athletes launching the support campaign as well as the athletes announcing that we are in. They are our most valuable stakeholders, and they are, as they have always been, at the very heart of all of our decisions. I am extremely satisfied that thanks to all our efforts, they will now have now the opportunity to earn another gold Olympic medal.

I also want to thank all the staff who has tirelessly worked on this project. So many hours, so many meetings, so many ideas, so many documents, videos and publications were made with so many people involved with them, that I wanted to extend my gratitude to the whole team. We were widely recognised as a young IF that is always looking to the future, and the sky is the limit. We thought big, and we succeeded. Now it’s time to enjoy the moment and then we will get on with developing this event so we can offer the world one of the most thrilling events in Tokyo 2020, as I’m sure our three triathlon events will be.

I don’t want to finish without thanking all the National Federations who were fully supportive of our project, yours is also this triumph and you will be the ones offering your athletes the possibility of more Olympic glory. It’s now your time to push to have the best possible teams in all Mixed Relays events.

And for all stakeholders, organisers and cities involved in Mixed relays events, you will have even more chances of hosting and taking part in those very special races. We said it from the very beginning – the athletes want it; National Federations applaud it; and fans demand it.  With unpredictable drama and the display of team pride, the Triathlon Mixed Team Relay format is triathlon racing at its most thrilling. It is also a great chance to show the world what we are made of - we are a federation who strongly believe in gender balance and we showcase it at every single event.
With all my heart, thank you again for all your contribution to this dream of having even more triathlon at the Olympics!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our Triathlon Family meets in Korea

After a full week of work in Denmark, it was time to move to Asia to celebrate the meetings of the ITU Executive Board, held in Seoul. It was a real pleasure to have the chance to visit the city, and I would like to especially thank Mr. Justin Park, President of the Korean Federation, for the warm welcome to their country and their hospitality during our visit. I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to experience the Korean culture, cuisine, history and traditions, even if it was for a short visit.

It was a very fruitful meeting with our Members of the Board, with our minds set already on the future. We will be opening the bidding process for WTS and World Cup events for 2018 very shortly, and we are more than ready to welcome cities to our already great triathlon family.

It was also great to see that our athletes are more and more involved in the management of ITU, with Shen-Yen Hsieh, from Chinese Taipei, taking the seat of Athletes Committee at the meeting, as the Chair, Jessica Harrison, could not attend. It was also time for discussions about proposals, improvements, changes and adaptations to our competition structure. And of course to take a look at what’s out there and to see how we can all together keep on improving our sport.

The two day meetings came to an end with an extraordinary visit to the venues of Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, where we had the chance to meet the President of the organising committee, Mr. Hee-Beom Lee, and Vice President, Mr. Jaeyoul Kim. I’m absolutely sure that it is going to be amazing! And we even had the chance of meeting their new mascot!