Qatar’s best triathletes will be up against a stellar line-up when QNB Asia Triathlon Cup, Doha 2021 kicks off at the Lusail Marina on Friday.
Part of the Continental Cup Series, QNB Asia Triathlon Cup – hosted by Qatar Triathlon Federation (QTF) - will be the country’s first elite level triathlon race to be held since the Asian Games in 2006.
Over 50 elite athletes from 18 nations will compete in search for valuable ranking points for the Continental Championships as well as a prize pot of $20,000.
Japan’s Ren Sato (World Ranking 68) will be the highest ranked male athlete in the start-list which also includes Colombia’s Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero (85), Ireland’s Russel White (114) and Czech Radim Grebik (116).
Sato’s compatriot Juri Ide – ranked 90th in the world – will be the one to beat in the women’s category, and she will be starting along with top triathletes in the calibre of Marion Kim Mangrobang of The Philipines (122) and Poland’s Alicja Ulatowska (137).
Qatar will be represented by Ebrahim Alromaihi, Saad Almejali, Mubarak Alajji, Eid Al Bordaini and Fahad Al Muhammad.
Competing for Spain, Doha-based triathlete, Aday Alvarez Diez De Ulzurrun, will likely be the strongest local interest at the event which will see a large participation from Japan (14 athletes), Taipei (8), United Kingdom (5), Colombia, Ireland and Chinese Taipei.
The event will start at Lusail Marina where athletes will compete over the standard distance - a 1,500m swim around the Yacht Club, followed by 40km cycling, capped by a flat and fast 10km run around the waterfront, past the twin swords of the new and iconic Katara Towers.
Ebrahim Al Romaihi, who currently leads the Qatari cohort in the Qatar National Triathlon Series, expressed the team’s excitement.
“It feels great for Qatar to host such an amazing event - I can’t wait to dive in! I’m counting the seconds before the start,” Alromaihi said.
His team-mate, Al Muhammad said: “We are super excited. We had a training camp from June to August in Slovenia. Then we came back here and continued our preparations under our Moroccan coach Muhsin Reilly. We had around four to five training sessions per week and we were also training individually. Participating in this event along with top elite athletes – the competition level is so high. But we would push ourselves to give our best.”
Al Romaihi who is competing in his second race in Qatar after the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games, said: “I am looking forward to compete in Asian Games and will do my best to reach there, which is one of my ambitions.”
QTF President Dr Mohammed Al Kuwari predicted that the competition venue at Lusail will provide a great environment for athletes to compete and enjoy modern Qatar.
QTF’s Secretary General Thani Al Zarraa reflected this is a milestone for the sport in Qatar.
“It’s great to have international events back again after a long absence. This one is even more special as it has all the GCC participating in elite and age group. This will raise the level of competition.”
QTF is also taking a step up by running the competition without the assistance of any outside organiser - building on experience gained from the World Beach Games Aquathlon and Qatar National Triathlon Series.
Apart from the feature event, QTF has also offered the opportunity for triathlon enthusiasts to take part in a public race the following day.
The event will cover the sprint distance; each discipline being half that of the standard distance race. Over 300 local and regional triathletes are expected to test themselves or simply set the goal of finishing their first triathlon.
Fatima Al Ghanim, a QTF board member said the hopes many of the spectators will want to be on the start line next time.
“The community is very excited about this event. We have to date over 300 registered athletes. Over 100 of these athletes are Qatari and we’re very proud of that. So almost a third of the participants are Qataris. This is a massive growth and it’s a testament to how the sport has grown and the excitement the community shows. A big achievement today is that we have five Qatari nationals participating in the elite event. All of them are men, but in the future we look forward to having some elite women. In the in the public race, about 15 percent of the participants are women. As I said, registration is still open, so we are expecting more over time. We are also very proud of the fact that over 20 GCC nationals have travelled from nearby country to attend the public race,” Al Ghanim said.
QNB is the main sponsor of the event, supported by Qatari Diar, NTT, Rayyan Water, Sports Corner, Rasen Sports and institutional partner Qatar Olympic Committee.