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No Yee or GTB – but lots to look forward to at WTCS Sunderland says Salmon

Why isn't the Great Britain line-up as strong as it might have been on home soil at WTCS Sunderland this weekend?

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British Tri CEO Andy Salmon admits he’s disappointed many of the star home names haven’t been able to make it to WTCS Sunderland this weekend – but is excited about a stellar international line-up and the lasting legacy the event will hopefully leave.

Sunderland has taken over the mantle from Leeds as the host of a British World Triathlon Championship Series event this year.

And though neither city will welcome the world’s top triathletes next year, Salmon is focusing on the present and a couple of exciting days of Sprint action ahead – with the elite individual races on the Saturday and the Mixed Team relay on the Sunday.

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‘Lasting impact’

He told us: “I’m hugely excited. I think the story really goes back to 2021 when we put out a bidding process for cities to host future events.

“And in short, I think Sunderland City Council had great foresight. They really want to get the people of Sunderland more physically active. They recognised that swimming, cycling and running were the three sports that most people participate in in England. So they put those three together and thought triathlon.

“It was about their commitment to engaging with us and driving physical activity 52 weeks a year. We’ve got some fantastic things going on already this weekend and we’re going to be launching our Swim, Bike, Run participation programme too.

“I think it’s going to be the best example we’ve seen for a long time of an investment in a major event leaving a lasting impact on a local community. And we’ll certainly carry on working with the people in Sunderland to make sure that’s a reality.”

Beaugrand and Wilde the headline acts

The one thing missing this weekend will be the biggest British names in action, with none of the Mixed Team Relay quartet who won that memorable gold medal at the last Olympics taking part.

That’s for a variety of reasons – Georgia Taylor Brown is injured and Jess Learmonth is expecting her first child, while there’s also the Paris test event coming up for Alex Yee and Jonny Brownlee in three weeks which has huge implications for Olympics qualification.

Olympic Games Mixed Relay Triathlon Tokyo 2020
Great Britain claimed Mixed Relay gold at Tokyo 2020.

But on the international front both the impressive winners from the last WTCS event in Hamburg – France’s Cassandre Beaugrand and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde – will line up on Roker Beach as will many other big names so there’s lots for the home crowds and a BBC TV audience to cheer.

And Salmon told us: “I’m not going to pretend otherwise, but it can be explained. We’ve had a horrid time in recent weeks with injuries and the second real factor is about the scheduling.

“These athletes have had a hell of a schedule in recent weeks. Many of them raced in Hamburg the weekend before last and they’re preparing for the Paris test event where they have the opportunity to be selected for the Olympics.

“So, yeah, it’s just a little bit of bad luck. The schedule just didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to go and injuries have transpired.

“But we still think we’re going to have a good representation – all being well, we’ll have four men on the start line, Liv [Olivia Mathias] on the women’s start line and a strong relay team as well.

“And it’s an impossible mix to get right about putting out your best stars and giving the stars of tomorrow an opportunity. But for sure, Sunderland this week is going to give the stars of tomorrow a great opportunity.

“And let’s not fall into trap of thinking that they’re second tier athletes. They are seriously good athletes, just perhaps not household names yet like Georgia and Alex, but they’re right up there.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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