ABU DHABI: ARAB NEWS
Published — Tuesday 5 February 2013
Last update 4 February 2013 11:40 pm
Saudi triathletes Nasser Mutarrid, Abdullah Al Deyabi and Adel Mohammed Al Zambagi are encouraging more of their countrymen to join the growing triathlon scene as they prepare to represent the Kingdom in the region’s biggest triathlon event, the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon on March 2.
As part of the ‘Local Heroes’ initiative, spearheaded by event organizer, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), Riyadh-based Mutarrid is signing up for the $230,000 Abu Dhabi showpiece’s 111.5km short course, which is also being contested by current Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Team GB.
Al Deyabi and Al Zambagi, both from Jeddah, are competing for the first time in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and are going for the competitive sprint distance at 55.75kms. The Saudi trio joins seven other amateurs from five Mid East countries who have been tasked with developing the sport in their respective markets and helping unearth future regional talent under the pioneering scheme. Mutarrid,29, began competing in triathlon seven years ago and is looking forward to representing the Kingdom in Abu Dhabi.
“I have grown to love the sport over the years and currently my mission is to inspire Saudis and share my experience through creating Saudi Arabia’s first local triathlon to help nurture local talent and also encourage people to become active.”
Joining Nasser in Abu Dhabi are his protégés Al Deyabi and Al Zambagi. An avid swimmer and runner since the age of six, Al Deyabi, has been training hard for the triathlon season opener and is excited about visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time.
“My father used to be a passionate swimmer and he inspired me to take up the sport in school. I used to participate in many swimming and running competitions in school and then university. When I was introduced to triathlon it made perfect sense to take on the challenge and hone my cycling skills as well.
“I have heard so much about Abu Dhabi from friends and I’ve already made a wish list of all the attractions I’d like to see including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Wadi Adventure,” added the 27-year-old IT specialist who works with Sejel Technology Limited.
Abdullah’s friend and training partner, 27-year-old Adel, is currently undergoing his residency at King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah to become a specialized doctor. The duo have been training seven days a week with a designated coach to get in shape for the UAE capital flagship event.
“I am always looking to take on a challenge and when Nasser and Abdullah encouraged me to sign up for the Local Heroes competition I was over the moon when I won a spot in the program. I am glad that regional events such as the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon are giving amateurs in the GCC a chance to participate and experience the thrill of competing with international elites.”
Nasser is currently training on his own in Riyadh where he runs and cycles on open roads early morning before the morning traffic, and usually practices swimming at Fitness Time, a local gym in the city, where he gets the chance to train and swim in the club’s heated outdoor pool. On the other hand, Abdullahi and Adel take advantage of Jeddah’s picturesque corniche and try and do most of their training on the 30 kilometer waterfront stretch.
Since its inception last year, Abu Dhabi’s Local Heroes program has gone from strength to strength, helping to develop the sport across the Middle East. In 2012, GCC signup swelled to 979 athletes, an increase of 27 percent over 2011, with the biggest growth coming from the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon offers the option of competing in the 223km ‘Long course’ (3km swim, a 200km cycle and 20km run), the half-length ‘Short’ course (1.5km swim, a 100km cycle and a 10 km run) and the ‘Sprint course’ (750m swim, a 50km bike and 5km run). Both the ‘short’ and the ‘sprint’ can be run as a team relay.
The event organizers have frozen athlete registration fees for the fourth year in a row. Athletes interested in entering should visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com and, after clicking on the ENTER NOW link, simply follow the instructions. Entry fees for the long and short distances are $190 (SAR 713) and US $130 (SAR 488) respectively, while Sprint course rates are $75 (SAR 282) for individuals and US $120 (SAR 450) for a team. The fee for the team relay is $280 (SAR 1,050). Tailored travel and race packages are available, visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com for more details.