The Europe Triathlon (formerly ETU) Awards for the 2021 season were held in La Nucia, Southern Spain on Saturday evening as part of the annual Presidents’ Conference Gala Dinner.
First held in Paris in 2016, the evening was back after a year away due to the global pandemic, and I was once again invited to MC / compere the event on behalf of Europe Triathlon, the Spanish Triathlon Federation and the La Nucia hosts.
There was a different look this time around, with the usual black tie formality replaced with ‘An Evening for Peace’ theme, showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and attendees encouraged to wear something blue and yellow.
Laureus nominees take honours
There is great strength-in-depth in European Paratriathlon, so much so that even gold medals in Tokyo for PTS5 athletes Lauren Steadman (GBR) and Martin Schulz (GER) – both nominated – saw them pipped to top spot.
Spain’s Susana Rodriguez (PTVI) and Netherlands’ Jetze Plat (PTWC) both had incredible years in 2021, and earned Paratriathlete of the Year honours.
Susana – who was also one of the guest speakers on the evening – took World and Paralympic Games victories alongside Guide Sara Loehr, while also being recognised by Time Magazine for her efforts as a doctor during the pandemic.
Plat meanwhile, may well be the most dominant paratriathlete across all categories. Unbeaten since 2015, he added Dutch, European, World and a second Paralympic triathlon gold to his incredible record. Not only that, he earned a further two Tokyo gold medals in paracycling, won both SLT Arena Games events and the World Paratriathlon Series Leeds. A worthy winner, indeed.
Such has been their impact, Rodriguez and Plat fill two of the six nominee spots for the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability in the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards, to be announced in April.
Paratriathlon continues to grow in status, long may it continue.
Olympic Gold medallists recognised
There were two sets of ‘Athlete of the Year’ awards for the 2021 season, to recognise both an Olympic year, plus performances within the Europe Triathlon calendar.
Given that, of course both Kristian Blummenfelt (Tokyo individual gold) and Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown (individual silver, mixed relay gold), were recognised as the top performing European athletes in Tokyo.
There was further recognition for Great Britain as Sian Rainsley, along with Tom Richard (France) earned the Europe Triathlon Cup awards for their consistency of performances across both World and European events.
Ready for the XTERRA World Championships
Earlier this year the XTERRA team announced that the annual World Championships would be leaving Maui for the first time, to be held in Trentino, Italy for the next two/three years before rotating.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) from Dolomiti Pagannella hosted the Europe Triathlon XTERRA Cross Championships in 2021, and so there should be further comfort for those looking forward to the World Championship event, that they were recognised with the Event of the Year award for their efforts in 2021
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, and a personal thank you to the Board of Europe Triathlon for once again inviting me to host the event.
Full Awards listing
- Developing National Federation of the Year – Turkey
- National Federation of the Year – Spain
- Technical Official of the Year – Carmen Gomez (ESP)
- Local Organising Committee/Event of the Year – Dolomiti Pagannella (ITA) – XTERRA European Championship
- Female Europe Triathlon Cup winner – Sian Rainsley (GBR)
- Female Athlete of the Year – Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR)
- Male Europe Triathlon Cup winner – Tom Richard (FRA)
- Male Athlete of the Year – Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR)
- Female Paratriathlete of the Year – Susana Rodriguez Gacio & Sara Loehr (ESP)
- Male Paratriathlete of the Year – Jetze Plat (NED)
- Executive Board Award – Aldo Lucarini, Bernard Saint-Jean and Werner Taveirne