Christmas and the New Year is just around the corner. 2019 has been an amazing year; our athletes have pushed themselves hard at races all over Europe as well as further afield on the ITU circuit. Our National Federations have been working hard with coaches to continue to deliver this great sport; our small army of Technical Officials, in their own free time, have continued to dedicate themselves to ensuring that the events are run fairly and safely and event organisers have stepped up to present to us some spectacular events.
In February, 2020, the Annual Presidents’ Conference and Gala will be held in Minsk, Belarus and we can now share with you the names of the nominees.
But before we do, let’s have a look at the previous winners.
The nominees this year really do reflect the highlights of our 2019 season.
For the Female Athlete of the year we have:
Ironstar Russia Triathlon
Julie Derron stepped into 2019 with the confidence that comes of having been declared the ETU U23 Champion at the end of 2018. Following that race, where she won the individual title as well as the Team Relay gold for Switzerland, she headed off east to race at Miyazaki for her final event of 2018 and was rewarded with a top ten finish. Focussed training over the winter months ensured that when she appeared on the start line in May at the ITU Madrid World Cup, she was ready for 2019. Her result there and again in Cagliari were not what she had hoped for but undaunted she raced in Weert (individual and relay) and Hamburg. Lessons were learnt and her focus moved to Kazan for the ETU Sprint Championships. This was her race and a stand-out performances took her to the top place on the podium. A golden year that was rounded off with a final victory in Weihai.
Petra Kuříková‘s races in Madrid and Cagliari gave her better results than Derron. Weert saw her finish stronger too. She used Antwerp and Hamburg to further prepare for Kazan and it certainly looked like she would get a podium place, based upon her early season performances. Strong in the swim and a solid bike took her to T2 and it was still looking good for a medal. The battle really took place out on the run and she was unable to match the pace of Derron, coming home for a well-earned silver. Karlovy Vary, one of the most testing of courses on the ITU World Cup circuit, saw her just miss out on the medals with a frustrating 4th place. A top ten place in Tongyeong towards the end of the year and she will now be focussing on the big events of 2020.
Youngest of all the nominees, is Germany’s Lisa Terstch. Following a lengthy absence from the sport, she delivered a sequence of master-class wins that set the triathlon scene alight. A stunning victory in Dnipro, where the bike course is challenging and where the heat on the pan-flat, out and back run can snatch back any lead, she won in style. A victory followed in Antwerp at the ITU World Cup. Gold again in Holten. A bronze in Lausanne at the U23 Worlds and then the European title in Valencia at the ETU U23 Championships. Her victory at the Funchal ETU Cup Final was just one week after her silver in Alanya behind one of the few athletes who can run faster than her. The battle of Alanya was one that ensured the ETU Cup Rankings was a thriller right down to the finish in Funchal, with Terstch beating Yuliya Yelistratova, a multiple winner of the Rankings Series over the years, to claim the 2019 title.
For the Male Athlete of the year:
Great Britain sees two of its best “new generation” athletes nominated.
Sam Dickinson finished the 2018 season with a silver in the ITU Gold Coast U23 Championships and then collected a cheeky couple of medals in Ibiza at the ETU Aquathlon Championships, claiming the U23 title and going home with the Elite bronze. All set for 2019, he blew the field apart in Tartu, where he led from the moment they hit the water. This solo effort was even more impressive when you look closely at the course, which had to be adjusted to fit in with a major international motor rally that was using Tartu as it base. No multi-lap bike course for the Elite; instead a long and torturous out-and-back ride that was quite possibly one of the loneliest 20k rides of his professional career. With his power and racing brain now set, he thrilled the crowds with a shoulder to shoulder, neck and neck sprint for the finish tape in Kazan where he was beaten by just a fraction by team-mate, Gordon Benson. Undaunted, he went to Karlovy Vary and once again, dominated. Three races. Three medals. Another gold in Constanța added more points to his already impressive tally and the rankings were now hotting up as he juggled his schedule to make sure he could hit the last races of the ETU Race Calendar. A technical problem in Alanya still saw a top ten finish and then in Funchal, he had a nail-biting wait as the officials studied all the photos and videos of his sprint finish with Rostislav Pevtsov. The final decision went in Pevtsov’s favour but it was oh, so close.
Ben Dijkstra‘s victory in the 2014 Youth Olympics gave Team GB the hope that medals at the Olympics would continue to come once the Brownlee brothers had moved on to longer distance events. A series of injuries looked menacing and we collectively breathed sigh of relief when he burst back on the scene with a top ten finish at the end of the 2018 season in Funchal at the ETU Cup Final. A solid bronze in Huelva at the start of this year was followed a few weeks later by a silver in Quarteira. Pushing himself to the limit in the Nottingham Relays, he helped his team to gold and then, at the Lausanne Grand Final, helped Team GB claim the silver in the U23/Junior Mixed Relays. His final race of the season was Valencia ETU U23 Championships. His exams all finished and with more time for training, he was rewarded with an impressive victory there, having found his electric run pace once more. It was an individual and team gold to round off 2019.
Rostislav Pevtsov started the year well with a victory in Pontevedra at the World Aquathlon Championships. In Weert, over the standard distance, he lost out to the mighty Alistair Brownlee. His 4th place could so easily have been a medal. Disappointment came again only a week later when, at the Dnipro race, he was out-sprinted by the young Aussie, Calum McClusky in a real cat and mouse race for the gold. It was thrilling TV and no doubt, the closing 1500m were the focus of his training in the following weeks. In Kazan, his bronze was a safe one behind the two Brits, Dickinson and Benson but Pevtsov now had a clear idea of the main challenge he faced in the rankings battle. It all came down to the ETU Cup Final in Funchal and he had to win that race in order to secure the Rankings Title. Lessons learnt in Dnipro and Kazan and when the early kick came from Dickinson, Pevtsov knew what to do. Funchal delivered a crazy finish last year but this one, with so much riding on it, put the officials under immense pressure to get it right. All the available evidence showed that it was Azerbaijan first and then Great Britain. With this final lunge for the line, Pevtsov had won the ETU Rankings and had done so in the most impressive manner.
For the Paratriathlete of the year:
Austria’s Florian Brungraber, racing in the H2 Category, came to the sport after a paragliding accident. His first race was a Sprint Event in Linz in 2014 and he was hooked. A series of podiums at international races followed but 2019 was his most successful year of racing. Having laid a solid foundation of training that delivered a Marathon PB in Berlin (1:37:17), his bronze in Valencia at the ETU European Championships a couple of weeks before was upgraded in both Alanya and in Funchal with impressive wins. With the bronze and two golds, Triathlon Austria is hoping that Brungraber will have secured a place at the Paralympics.
One name that delights announcers is that of France’s Alexis Hanquinquant. The Frenchman comes from a background of basketball and full-contact (fighting in the 86kg division). An accident at work resulted in straight trans tibial amputation in September 2013 and undaunted, his focus moved to triathlon. Since July 2016, when he raced the PT4 Open Category in Rotterdam, he has won every race he has entered, with the exception of one silver in Tokyo and a 4th in the 2018 Iseo - Franciacorta ITU World Paratriathlon Series. He took the ETU title in Kitzbühel in 2017, then in Tartu in 2018 and in Valencia in 2019. His World title came in 2017 in Rotterdam, was defended in 2018 at Gold Coast and in Lausanne in 2019. Having missed out on Rio, he will be one to watch in Tokyo.
Jules Ribstein, also from France, was a triathlete from an early age but a motorcycle accident in 2008 and the loss of his left leg dashed all his hopes and plans. Some reflection and a lot of hard work and he has turned that testing period into something amazing and, with silver medals in the national championships in 2017 and 2018, his performances improved with a series of bronze medals at ITU Paratriathlon World Cup races. His test in 2018 was Tartu. Missing out on the medals there in the PTS2 category, he went on to win the French title and claim a bronze at the Gold Coast World Championships. 2019 saw delight and dismay, as he won European and World titles but found out that his category would not be represented in Tokyo. His long-term focus will now, of course, be on Paris, 2024.
The next two categories are an important reflection of the work done by National Federations to improve their events and delivery of our sport across the board. The work done by them to encourage participation amongst the Age-Group, Para-triathlete Junior and Youth categories will ensure the continued growth in participation at ETU events around the year and across the continent.
Our sport enjoys a high profile and it is precisely by encouraging these categories that our sport will continue to grow, will continue to promote a healthy lifestyle and ensure the future of swimming, biking, running and cross-country skiing in all permutations and variations.
With all this in mind, the following three nations have been nominated. Click the photo and see the video.
For National Federation:
- the Netherlands
The Junior Ranking achieved by each federation, based on the combined performances of each nation’s male and female athletes is a key factor in assessing the progress and direction of the sport in developing nations. Participation at the ETU Development Camps gives these athletes valuable opportunities to build upon their natural talent and to share ideas with their peers. Alongside the athletes are of course the all-important volunteers who attend courses and, if successful, achieve credited status.
The nominees For Emerging National Federation:
For Technical Official of the year:
Never an easy choice but this year we see three names.
- Dóra Rózsa (HUN);
- Miguel Alejandro Fernández Vázquez (ESP);
- Jan Philipp Krawczyk (GER)
First up is Dóra Rózsa (HUN). Able to work in three languages, based in the Netherlands but using her vast experience of international races to lead the management of Hungary’s growing Age-Group army, Dóra is always busy at any event she attends. She was out in Abu Dhabi this year to provide support to the LOC at the Special Olympics. As one of the three Technical Delegates in Târgu Mureș this year, she took control of specific events and provided valuable support for those where another TD had been appointed. It was Dóra took on the responsibility for much of the pre-event preparation.
Miguel Alejandro Fernández Vázquez (ESP) was seen earlier in the year in Pontevedra at the ITU World Multisports Championships. Despite an injury to his foot, he continued with his designated role and pretty much kept the whole thing running. He was the natural choice for the ETU Multisports Championships, held in a variety of locations in and around the beautiful city of Târgu Mureș. Working with two other Technical Delegates, his over-view was key to the delivery of a hugely successful event.
Jan Philipp Krawczyk (GER), fluent in English, French and German has moved up the ladder not only at home in Germany, where he is now Vice-President of the German Triathlon Union but also internationally. At home, his responsibility is clearly on delivering the best venues and most professional technical officials. It was “JP” who delivered the Championships in Weert and who will be in charge of Leeds in 2020.
For Event of the year:
This is really going to be a tough choice. Click the photos to see the videos.
For the first time ever, the ETU Sprint Triathlon Championships were held in Russia. The setting was simply breath-taking. The delivery by the LOC was incredible and for all those who dared travel deep into the heart of Russia, where the mighty Volga flows, they were richly rewarded. The LOC delivered as close to a technically perfect event as you can. The city supported us and the welcome from everyone there was a warm one. Kazan was for many, the trip of a life-time. The Elite races were shown live on Russia’s premier TV Channel, with coverage of the Age-Group athletes also being provided.
Kitzbühel once again saw athletes test themselves over the challenging course that the small but dedicated LOC created. Head Referee, John Petrides was full of praise, “Kitzbühel, Great place, great event, great LOC. You have done our sport proud!” It was the venue for the 2019 ETU Triathlon Youth European Championships Festival and, from the man who has worked at each of the Youth Festivals, “The spirit of the ETU Youth festival is moving from strength to strength. Kitzbühel has just raised the bar even higher. We always build from the bottom up, so the stronger the foundations, the stronger the future.” Athletes felt on top of the world when they visited the Hahnenkamm and KitzTV was there tp capture the atmosphere.
Târgu Mureș has been a favourite for many since the venue was used for the 2016 Cross Duathlon Championships. Value for money, safe and fair, welcoming and an LOC that puts the athletes and the sport first. That pretty much sums up the ethos that was at the heart of the operation led by Péter Klosz. His tragic death has left a huge hole in the heart of our sport but he was rightly proud of the Multisports Festival that delivered the biggest sporting event the region had ever seen. Almost 2,500 athletes came to Transylvania. The city centre was closed to allow our draft-legal Sprint Duathlon to take place, where Age-Group athletes sped along in pelotons, looking like professionals. The off-road races were challenging and well-attended, the Transylvania Motor Ring hosted the Standard Distance Duathlon and gave not only the smoothest racing surface ever but also a hilly and testing course, the Aquathlon provided a thrilling spectacle to the thousands of spectators in one of the hottest days and the Middle Distance and Aquabike raced around historic and peaceful roads.
Weert rose above the challenges and delivered a standard distance triathlon championships that was fair and challenging to the hundreds of Age-Group Athletes who came. A split-transition venue, with an “Elite-Style” beach start, with the heart-beats and music we use for the Elite events. Impressive it certainly was. The bike course was flat but deceptively tough, with the winds. The crowd-support around the run course was fantastic and the closing ceremony, with cakes and medals and a wonderful party atmosphere was well-received. Only a couple of days later the entire swim venue was flattened by a freak storm but re-built before the national event. Alistair Brownlee delivered a master-class to take the Elite title and the relays provided a fitting finale.
The final category is always a closely-guarded secret and only the ETU Executive Board know the lucky winner.
The Executive Board Award is truly one of the highest marks of respect that can be given and we will know on the night of the Gala Dinner.