Sunday, December 20, 2015

A year full of newcomers in our big Team ITU family

For most elite triathletes, it’s the dream of competing in the Olympic Games that fuels them on. However, lack of funding, training facilities and knowledge can hindMathe most talented and skilled athletes from reaching sucy goals. For that reason, ITU created a number of development projects aimed to help promising triathletes to reach their Olympic goals, and 2015 has been a really productive year in this area, not only for athletes, but also for coaches and technical officials.

One of the projects that that we are most proud of is Team ITU, which aims to provide support, resources and expertise to athletes from emerging or developing countries with the goal of competing at the next Olympics. The project has grown expansively since we began it.

This year, we welcomed first-time athletes to Team ITU. Chinese Taipei, Chile, Ecuador, Belarus, Bahrain and Ukraine all sent triathletes to our program, and their progress in competitions is impressive. All of them had the chance to compete at events in New Plymouth, Chengdu, Huatulco, Tiszaujavaros, and Alanya, the ladder of which hosted Team ITU for the first time.

Being a part of Team ITU provides educational opportunities to athletes, but it also gives athletes a team dynamic that they may not have experienced before, which provides an athletes with a boost of support at events.

The programme also included giving some scholarships to triathletes from Bahrein, China Taipei, Estonia, Ecuador and Jordan, and I’m very happy that ITU support was awarded to Drikus Coetzee, from Namibia, for a three-month training camp in Germany.

As our sport continues to grow, it reaches more and more parts of the world, and so does the countries which have held an event for the first time in 2015, including Technical Officials and Coaches courses in countries such as Abu Dhabi, Tahiti, Bahrain, Indonesia, Greece, Nepal, Virgin Island, Panama or Jordan, and even more will be organizing courses at the beginning of next year.

Our Continental Confederations also did great work to establish different projects to aid in the development of Federations. CAMTRI, for instance, focused on an athlete development project with the goal of getting athletes to Rio 2016, while Oceania established Team Oceania, in which athletes from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea trained in Fiji and competed at the Pacific Games.

Our Asian Triathlon Confederation sent new bike equipment to Cambodia and Myanmar, and focused on the development of athletes, officials and the Federations in the Middle East, while in Africa they worked on establishing new National Federations. The European Triathlon Union has been working so effectively for the last several years that three of its National Federations no longer needed to be classified as ‘developing’.

Special mention should be made of the first duathlon event held with the technical support of the ITU at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka (Zambia) this May for the first time, which is great news for our big and proud family.

The development and the growth of our sport is the mayor focus of ITU’s family, and all of us will keep working on those projects to help more and more athletes, coaches and technical officials to fulfill their dreams. Applications for Team ITU 2016 are now open, so hurry up and get your athletes in!

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