After a full day in the conference hall, it was a quick change into the dinner suits and posh frocks for the delegates, before they were taken to the Awards Venue.
This year the dinner and awards took place on a river boat and saw a star-studded line up of speakers and prize-winners. Russian Triathlon’s Galina Shipovalova had spent hours in the preparation of this weekend’s conference and this awards dinner would be the finale.
With final checks being made on the runners and riders, it was once again a great pleasure to have as compere for the evening, Tri247’s John Levison. International trriathlon commentator, collector of triathlon statistics and whose voice will be heard again this year at Glasgow.
The opening address was given by Peter Ivanov, President of the Russian Triathlon Federation.
The microphone then went to Renato Bertrandi, President of the European Triathlon Union, who welcomed Marisol Casado, President of the ITU and IOC Member and all the guests.
Before the dining and awards started, it was time for an update on an initiative that started in Kitzbühel was the #BeClean baton. President of the Dansk Triatlon Forbund, Mads Freund presented the relay baton to ÖTRV (Tri Austria’s) Herwig Grabner as hosts of the ETU Triathlon European Championships.
The baton was then handed on to the Dutch federation in Rotterdam last September.
In the safe hands of Wim van Oijen, President of the Nederlandse Triathlon bond, this evening was a golden opportunity, before the assembled 36 national federations, to hand over the baton to the British Triathlon Federation’s Ian Howard ahead of the European Sports Championships in Glasgow.
In between courses, the speeches gave us insight into the new directions of our sport and into the diversity and inclusivity of our sport, with Boris Kirilov RUS. Born in 1935 the living legend has raced at 21 international triathlon events, won ten of them and been on the podium 15 times.
Next up onto the stage was an athlete who set a world record in 1997 that stood for 14 years; with a finish time of 7:50:27 (swim - 0:44, bike - 4:28, run - 2:36, plus transition). Which race was this? Well, it was Roth and it was full distance. Who was the athlete? Well, it was Luc Van Lierde and he went on to win Hawaii in 1999 and then used his expertise to coach some of the best long distance athletes, including fellow Belgian, not related, Frederick Van Lierde who with his 2013 Ironman World Championship victory, put his name in the history books by becoming the first male to win the Ironman World Championship as an athlete and as a coach. Luc Van Lierde thanked the ETU for the opportunity to visit Moscow, his first time to Russia and thanked the Russian Federation for hosting the event.
Before the Awards ceremony began we had a chance to hear from a man who has a PhD in Computer Science, who has published numerous academic books and papers on applied mathematics for computer networks, who fell in love with our great sport in 2013 and, because he wanted to and because he could, took triathlon to an entirely new level with the Super League Triathlon. Invited to the Conference, Leonid Boguslavsky was able to meet with not only Renato Bertrandi and Marisol Casado but also with all the representatives of the National federations. A golden opportunity to ensure that his hard work would be in tandem with the direction of sport under the ITU and ETU umbrella.
He spoke passionately about the sport and demonstrated that aside from his incredible business sense, he was also an accomplished triathlete who, after finding our sport in 2013, focussed so well that he qualified for the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
The tension had built and now …. It was time for the awards.
For the 2017 season, the 7 categories were:
- Emerging / Developing National Federation of the Year
- National Federation of the Year
- Organiser of the Year
- Technical Official of the Year
- Female Athlete of the Year
- Male Athlete of the Year
- ETU Executive Board Award
With the nominees announced, the room went quiet as the very first winner if the evening was announced.
As Emerging / Developing National Federation of the Year ...
It was …. Romania.
This relatively new federation, founded in 2012, has delivered three European Championships and one World Championships in the past few years. The education programme for officials and coaches has delivered 26 officials and many coaches and the focus on growing the sport from grass-roots up has been immense.
So, for the Federaţia Română de Triatlon a delighted President, Peter Klosz collected the prize. He leaves first thing in the morning, as he will travel to Gran Canaria to work there as the ETU Technical Delegate.
The previous years have seen Great Britain collect the National Federation of the Year award but this year there were new nominees.
Of the nominated nations, it was Spain who took the honours. Their massive programme of races, top level Elite athletes, successful ParaTri programme, education programme and increasing level of participation at all levels was rewarded and received with delight by José Hidalgo Martín, President of the Federación Española de Triatlón, who spoke of the passion amongst his team.
Organiser of the Year is a prize that is much envied amongst the LOCs around Europe. This year the competition was intense but with the weight of positive feedback from the 2017 Championships, it was a chance for us all to applaud the Team from Tirol, for the hard work they had put in to make Kitzbühel such a great race.
They attended the dinner in style.
The award for the Technical Official of the Year saw Sarah Taylor Hough nominated once more. On this occasion, she was rewarded for her work in Rotterdam by scooping the title.
Thanking the teams she had worked with, it was our longest-serving Technical Official and Executive Board member, Eugene Kraus, who presented the award.
The Female Athlete of the year saw nominations from Russia, Great Britain and the Netherlands. It was the ETU Triathlon European Champion, Jess Learmonth GBR, who took the title. Relatively new to the sport, having moved to our sport in 2014, she has again and again shown great power and skill in the water and on the bike around the European Cups and further afield on the WTS and World Cup circuit and with her victory in Kitzbühel, the title went to her.
Sadly she was away in Australia, in preparation for the Commonwealth games but her video message was typically Jess. The award was collected by the new CEO for British Triathlon, Andy Salmon.
The Male Athlete of the year saw nominations from Spain and Portugal but with that historic double victory at Kitzbühel and Düsseldorf, the choice was easy. He had made history.
João Pereira came to the stage to receive the award and told the audience, “It is with great honour that today I receive this award from the European Triathlon Union. I could not be happier. This award is the result of hard work and dedication that resulted in something that no other athlete could beat. To take the two individual title and the Team title – everything in the same year. Standard Distance, Sprint Distance and Clubs Team Champion. These are titles that I had continually tried to get but they were always, somehow, out of reach. This award is also a thank you to all those who work with me. The organisations involved and the sponsors. As far as being an athlete, with my hard work being recognised, it has given me even more motivation to continue hard. Thank you very, very much.”
A special award was also made to the longest-serving Coach within the Russian Triathlon Federation; Anatoly Shakhmatov. This pioneer in the sport in Russia had organised the very first annual race and had motivated generation after generation. Peter Ivanov was delighted to have the chance to honour this great and much respected man.
Each year the ETU Executive Board makes a special award. In Paris it went to the French Triathlon Federation, La Fédération française de triathlon (FFTri) for the huge support they had provided to ETU and to ITU. In Rome, last year, the award went to Estonia’s Kaidi Kivioja who had come through the ranks of our development squad and had, by racing in Rio, inspired a new generation of athletes in her country.
This year, with much emotion, Renato Bertrandi assisted by Marisol Casado, announced that Enrique Quesada would get the honour. His dedication and hard work for decades had been the foundation upon which our sport has been built. His “behind the scenes” work with results has kept our races on track and his contribution to the education programme that now runs globally has been invaluable.
Called up to the stage, he walked the 30 paces from his table, unaware that behind him everyone had stood and were applauding him. His face, when he turned to see the standing ovation, was one of pure delight.
He spoke of the hard work he had seen from within the sport and how the sport had grown and how he had grown within the organisation. Paying thanks to Marisol Casado and especially to his “hermano” Gergely Markus and his soulmate Zita Csovelyak, he spoke of the “million dreams” that inspire and motivate. He was accompanied by his partner Jacoba, who along with Zita and Gergely had supported him all along.
The speech he had written stayed in his pocket and instead, he spoke not from the paper but from the heart and around the room, tears of emotion flowed as he again and again touched the fundamental reasons that we are all part of the great sport, Triathlon.
The guests departed, having made arrangements for the Presidents’ Run, which would take them, in the early morning, to some of the iconic sights of downtown Moscow. Never before had so many representatives from so many national federations joined together in Moscow. Never before had so many ventured so far outside their comfort zone. They all had a chance to see how warm the welcome is in Russia and how well-organised the Russian Triathlon Federation has become. With those barriers now moved aside, we look forwards to new and exciting energy and direction for the European Triathlon Union, led by Renato Bertrandi and supported by each and every National Federation.