2019, Dublin - And the winner is …

By Paul Groves | 13 Feb, 2019

The venue moves from Moscow to Dublin and our hosts, Triathlon Ireland, are promising a thrilling evening.

This is the time of year that glitzy and glamorous awards parties are held for the film and music industry but also, for the ETU Family. A tradition started in 2016 in Paris, continued in 2017 in Rome and in 2018 moved to Moscow. Another tradition, started in Rome, saw delegates and athletes taking in the sights of the city with an amazing early morning run.

2018 was a great year for the sport and now, in 2019, it is time to look back and celebrate those successes. Alongside the celebrations will be the chance for representatives of all the European Triathlon Federations to meet, exchange ideas, share hopes, create new ideas, plan ahead and of course to celebrate the successes of their athletes, event organisers and Technical Officials.

The 8 categories are:

  • Female Athlete of the Year
  • Male Athlete of the Year
  • Paratriathlete of the Year
  • National Federation of the Year
  • Emerging / Developing National Federation of the Year
  • Technical Official of the Year
  • Organiser of the Year
  • ETU Executive Board Award

So, who might be the lucky winners?

Well, amongst the Female athletes, we see Vicky Holland (GBR), Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Yulia Yelistratova (UKR).

For the British athlete, Vicky Holland, the 2018 season began with World Cup gold in Cape Town, a clear indication that she was back in form after a long injury lay-off and ready to compete at the highest level once more. Second place in WTS Bermuda and gold in Leeds got the season in full swing, and after two more victories in WTS Edmonton and WTS Montreal, a hard-fought second place in the Gold Coast Grand Final secured Vicky a debut World title.

  • 2018 ITU World Champion
  • Winner WTS Montreal 2018
  • Winner WTS Edmonton 2018
  • Winner WTS Leeds 2018
  • Silver medal winner at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Nottingham
  • Silver medal winner at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast
  • Winner ITU World Cup Cape Town 2018
  • Silver medal winner at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
  • Silver medal winner at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Bermuda

Holland is up against Europe’s most experienced athlete, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig. The Swiss athlete is now a six-times European Champion (2009,2010,2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018) as well as winning gold at the 2014 Ironman Cozumel and at the European Games 2015. Her power over a variety of distances has seen her win seven 70.3 Ironman events and has been on the podium at each half Ironman race she ever entered.An Olympic champion, after winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games and silver medal winner at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, she is the most successful female triathlete at Olympic Games. Despite all the hours that her training has taken up, she has also been successful in her studies, has qualified as a lawyer and with her husband, Reto Hug, himself a world-class triathlete, they have a young family who no doubt will follow in their sporting footsteps.

  • European Champion at the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships
  • Winner at the 2018 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Cup
  • 2nd place in the Mixed Relays at the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships

Yulia Yelistratova is one of the most regularly seen names on ETU start lists. She is truly prolific in her racing and despite having suffered some pretty spectacular crashes in her long career, is as strong now as ever. She first burst onto the scene in 2005, when she raced at the European Cup in Alanya at the age of 17. Her elite debut saw her finish in 9th place. With a total of 166 international starts, she has won 26 of those races and been on the podium on 57 occasions. Having started a family after the 2016 Rio Olympics, she came back to the 2018 season with an opening victory in Sharm el Sheikh. Racing at 6 different ETU events in 2018, she won in Dnipro and Alanya and claimed bronze in Funchal and was once again crowned 2018 ETU Rankings Champion.

  • 3rd place at the 2018 Funchal ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup Final
  • Winner of the 2018 Salinas ITU Triathlon World Cup (Ecuador)
  • Winner of the 2018 Alanya ETU Triathlon European Cup
  • Winner of the 2018 Dnipro ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup
  • Winner of the 2018 Sharm El Sheikh ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup and Pan Arab Championships

For the men, we are focussed this year on the neighbouring nations of Spain and France but with Hungary featuring for the first time. Most famous amongst them is of course Mario Mola ESP, Pierre Le Corre (FRA) and Mark Dévay (HUN)

Mario Mola is currently the world’s number one after winning the 2018 World Triathlon Series. It was back in 2006 that we saw his first international appearance with the Spanish team and, in 2009, Mario gave Spain its first Junior World Champion with victory on the Gold Coast. A great favourite with the crowds, always ready to sign autographs and easily one of the best ambassadors for the sport, he races now almost exclusively on the WTS circuit. Retaining his World title in 2017, in 2018 he went on to match the feat of his illustrious compatriot Javier Gomez, becoming WTS World Champion for the third year in succession after finishing in the top two on no fewer than seven occasions.

  • Three-time ITU World Champion (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Winner WTS Montreal 2018
  • Winner WTS Edmonton 2018
  • Winner WTS Hamburg 2018
  • Winner WTS Yokohama 2018
  • Silver medal winner WTS Leeds 2018
  • Silver medal winner WTS Abu Dhabi 2018

Born in the west of France, he moved to the US but upon his return to Europe he turned his focus fully to triathlon. 2018 was his most successful year, winning the European Crown in Glasgow at the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships, not only in the individual event but also with his team in the Mixed Relays.

  • Winner at the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships
  • Winner at the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships – Mixed Relay
  • 3rd place at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Nottingham

Living in Székesfehérvár, where a very successful race was held last year, he is one of the fastest swimmers on the circuit. Indeed, at the 2018 ETU Tartu European Sprint Triathlon Champion ships, it was Márk Dévay who led the athletes out of the water. Just behind him was Richard Varga, widely recognised as the strongest swimmer on the international circuit. Beating him out of the water at a top-class event is one memory for Dévay to keep. His appearance at 10 ETU starts this last year, whilst still racing in the U23 category, shows his dedication to the sport. Of those ten events, six were top-ten finishes. Added to his ETU events, he raced a further five further afield, collecting valuable points and experience as he went but it was the hard work at ETU events that saw him crowned 2018 ETU Rankings Champion. Definitely one to watch as he moves up from the U23 races. Oh, and look out for him in Dublin. He will be the one dressed to kill and quite possibly a contender for the role of 007.

ETU will also recognise, reward and celebrate our Paratriathletes in Dublin

Nominees are; Susana Rodríguez (ESP) for winning the World Championships for the first time after 7 years of continuous improvement. She is a symbol of dedication, who began running at age of 10, before trying her hand at the other two disciplines of triathlon. Su began her paratriathlon career in 2011 where she won consecutive gold medals at the ITU World Championship Series in both Madrid and London and was named Athlete of the Year from the city of Vigo, Spain, in 2013. Runner-up in 2018 at the Tartu ETU Triathlon European Championships, she went on to win the Worlds just two months later.

Elise Marc (FRA). She has continued racing not being influenced by continuous changes of her opponents due to classification reviews and claimed the European Crown in Tartu. Her season in 2018 saw her claim victories in 5 of her six races, coming home for silver in the last race of the season in the Grand Final.

Liisa Lilja (FIN). A brave comeback at the Grand Final after a serious injury and an operation during the year, gave her a 4th place. Her other races in 2018, in Lausanne and Madeira were both gold medal performances.

What makes a National Federation, the “National Federation of the Year”?

The 2018 award will be decided between France, Great Britain and Spain.

Well, perhaps Great Britain has the answer, having won this prestigious title in 2015 and 2016. Absent from the list in 2017, Team GB is always very visible as they arrive “en masse” at any Age Group Championships. In 2018, a total of 2,156 British athletes embraced the spirit of Age-Group participation and raced the various Championships. They are even now appearing at and winning medals at Winter Triathlon events. With a dedicated programme for developing para-athlete participation, a carefully-structured education programme for technical officials and coaches and the solid elite base that has been a motivation for many at grass-roots level, BTF is seen as a lead in many areas.

France has a massive domestic racing calendar that attracts the best athletes in the world, who race for the teams that can regularly be seen at a number of events in the Grand Prix series. Having produced European Champions at a variety of levels, with a very strong educational programme for officials and coaches, with the ability to attract athletes from neighbouring countries and with the long history of respect for cyclists, France is a natural choice for training, racing and promoting the sport. The French Federation announced last year their intention of staging the first International Indoor Triathlon this century and in just a few weeks’ time all eyes will be on Liévin and the Liévin ETU Indoor Triathlon European Cup.

Spain has delivered some great events to the racing calendar over the past years. 2018 continued with the ETU Challenge Long-Distance Championships in Madrid and the inaugural ETU MultiSport Festival in Ibiza. With events across the range on the ETU Calendar, the Spanish Federation has continued to support development in the sport as well as investing in education programmes for its technical officials and coaches. The training programmes for Elite and Para athletes is wide-reaching and the high-level performances of Elite, U23, Junior and Para athletes around the world, perhaps inspired by stand-out results on the WTS and Paratriathlon Series events.

ETU has, does and will continue to invest in the development of smaller federations. In 2016, Croatia won the category “Emerging/developing National Federation of the year”.  In 2017 in Rome, it was Slovenia and in 2017, it was Romania. A massively complicated database, filled each year with fresh data, is used by the ETU Development Committee, with Željko Bijuk to make their decision.

This year, the nominees are: Macedonia, Latvia and Serbia. Of all the national federations in this category, they were the 3 that made most progress.

Macedonia is one of our newest federations but already has 2 skilled technical officials, both Level II, who were able to share their expertise at the 2018 Ohrid ETU Triathlon Balkan Championships. A truly stunning location and easy to access for all in the region, this event has great potential.

Latvia’s Blue Riband event in Riga has been attracting more and more athletes over the past years. With the new location and with live TV coverage, the Federation has raised the bar and provided it home athletes, coaches and officials with a fantastic opportunity to develop their skills. With 5 technical officials and strong team of coaches, they have been making their mark around the European arena. Sharing resources with neighbouring nations and even holding an event that straddles the border with Estonia, Latvia shows how sport can unite.

A remarkable success has been seen in Serbia where, in 2018, an increase in participation of women of 32% has been seen. Under the watchful eyes of coach, technical official and athlete Ljudmila Medan, Serbia has been running a unique programme for girls in triathlon. Ljudmila and her team have sparked a movement within our sport that will have a positive impact across the Balkan region and onwards throughout Europe. With the Belgrade Junior European Cup in September, there will be a chance for athletes to experience the warm welcome of the Federation as well as for their athletes to show their newly acquired racing skills.

Technical Official of the year; In 2016, the title went jointly to Jorge García and Dr Béla Varga. In 2017 the title went to Stéfane Mauris and in 2018 it went to Sarah Taylor.

With the nominations coming from the ITU Technical Committee (Gergely Markus), the officials crossing their fingers are:

  • Andreas Galanos (GRE)

Andreas delivered the third edition of the Cagliari ITU World Cup, was TD for the Tarragona Mediterranean Games and Ohrid Balkan Championships. He was also a key player at the Loutraki Youth European Championships. One of the most experienced officials in Europe and easily the best dancer amongst all Technical Officials, his knowledge of wartime history is unparalleled. It was during the Cagliari event in 2017 that his expertise was used when he, with the swift actions of Aldo Basola, re-configured the bike course whilst the emergency services dealt with the Alex Yee accident.

  • Mary Clare Bancewicz (GBR)

Has been working as the Secretary for the ETU Technical Committee now for the past 5 years and between shifts in the Accident and Emergency Centre in Glasgow she has been TD at the Eilat U23 European Championships, aTD at the Glasgow European Championships and was a technical official at the WTS event in Leeds. Having previously worked as a Medical Delegate at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she is multi-skilled and completely unflappable in even the most extreme circumstances.

  • Hugh McAtamney (IRL)

Under immense pressure to cancel the event in Hamburg in 2017, Hugh led the Technical Team and ensured the show could go on after a terrible crash in the women’s race during the WTS event. Having completed his 3 years as TD in Hamburg he was assigned the role of TD at the Lausanne World Cup and Paratriathlon World Cup. He is a Technical Official Facilitator and delivered the Level 1 course in Ohrid last year and has been instrumental is setting up the ATOEP Ireland programme.

To be named “Organiser of the year” is a huge honour. In the past this title went to Geneva for its magnificent ETU Triathlon European Championships, to Tiszaújváros following the tremendous success of the Youth Festival and Junior European Cup and to the hosts of the 2017 European Championships, Kitzbühel.
This year the nominees are:

  • Glasgow: European Championships with 954 participants, live television and within a Multisport European Championship setting that saw the event being shown around the world to millions of viewers.

  • Quarteira: A European Cup event since 2009, which has consistently attracted many athletes ensuring a filled start list. Elite racing one day and Juniors the next, with a challenging sea swim and testing bike course, the live coverage on-line this year attracted thousands of viewers and gave us once again a truly great start to the season.

  • Olsztyn: a new event in a beautiful location. Even with heavy rain, it looked really good and provided athletes with a testing course over the standard distance. Again, the event was supported by an impressively high quality live-TV coverage and from all the athletes we spoke to, the impressions were very positive. This small event has all the potential to grow as an international event and to attract more and more athletes.

  • Ibiza: the party island was the location for the first ever Multisport Championships. Freak weather pushed the LOC to the very limit and along with the technical officials, races were delivered that were adjusted to ensure safety for those competing. Using a variety of locations across the island, athletes got to see some of the most iconic views as they raced, while their friends and families were able to enjoy the hospitality of the islanders.

The final award; the ETU Executive Board Award has been given in the past to the French Triathlon Federation, La Fédération française de triathlon (FFTri), to Estonia’s promising young athlete, Kaidi Kivioja and last year, to Enrique Quesada. Always a challenge for the ETU Executive Board to decide. Which athlete, coach, official or federation or organiser will win this prestigious title in Dublin?

So, for the 2018 nominations, who should be getting ready for the red carpet?

  • Female athlete of the year: Vicky Holland (GBR), Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Yulia Yelistratova (UKR).
  • Male athlete of the year: Mario Mola ESP, Pierre Le Corre (FRA) and Mark Dévay (HUN).
  • National Federation of the year: France, Great Britain and Spain.
  • Emerging/developing National Federation of the year: Macedonia, Latvia and Serbia. 
  • Technical Official of the year: Mary Clare Bancewicz (GBR), Andreas Galanos (GRE), Hugh McAtamney (IRL).
  • Organiser of the year: Glasgow (GBR), Quarteira (POR), Olsztyn (POL), Ibiza (ESP)
  • ETU Executive Board Award: ??
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