Reasons To Be Optimistic For Triathlon in 2021

Michael D'hulst with Tyler Mislawchuk

Column by Super League Triathlon CEO Michael D’hulst

The end of any year is a time for reflection and as 2020 draws to a close I find myself feeling proud of what we at Super League Triathlon have achieved in difficult circumstances – and increasingly optimistic about 2021.

Looking back on 2020 I think we did some great things at Super League.

When the pandemic hit our board and investors challenged us to either innovate or hibernate until the worst of COVID had passed.

To their credit they were prepared to get behind us, and it has made me immensely proud of my team that they have been able to over deliver on every front on which they were challenged.

In 2020 the brand name of Super League Triathlon has become deeper engrained in triathlon, and also gained significant recognition for being an innovator and a game changer in the wider sport’s industry. That is fantastic.

SLT Arena Games Super League Triathlon Jessica Learmonth

We delivered an innovative and exciting new format in the SLT Arena Games. We doubled our audience numbers in our key markets, substantially increased our PR footprint with global coverage and drove huge growth in video views, all despite COVID halting most of the triathlon calendar. We also took the opportunity to grow our excellent team to have even more expertise to call upon and put in place the building blocks for a rapid expansion.

Behind the scenes we as a team have come closer together and integrated the different elements of the business. We had time to bring in more expertise and work on strategies to make us even more ready for 2021.

Indeed, our goals have shifted. For many months we felt as though 2021 would be what 2020 should have. Now we have our sights set on massively outstripping those expectations.

For 2021 there are quite a few trends that I expect will support our further development. There is a massive boom in health and wellness as recent growth numbers from Strava demonstrated. I anticipate the Olympics to happen with some great performances from our SLT athletes and post Tokyo I think we will see the most exciting 70.3 World Championships ever, continuing the take over of short distance athletes.

One of the game changing innovations that got a lot of very positive response from the industry and also broadcasters is the SLT Arena Games. I want to underline this is not something purely for COVID times.

Jonathan Brownlee at the SLT Arena Games for Super League Triathlon

It will be a regular in the Super League calendar that will exist outside of the Championship Series. Athletes from different backgrounds will race against each other as we saw in Rotterdam where Anne Haug competed against the short course females.

As a company we have built out our commercial team and value proposition with two clear focusses.

Firstly, to become audience specialists, which will help us deliver a full spectrum of value to our commercial partners and our sponsors.

We will collaborate more closely with our athletes in 2021 to drive exciting new content and expand further our digital footprint.

The other aim is to become a place where business is done. I think that has great promise now.

This year we delivered the RBC Community Challenge in Jersey which was a great success. 2020 has made people more comfortable with a virtual experience – virtual racing, tracking themselves etc, and this opens a lot of doors in what will be a changed world going forward.

Mourant Jersey Super League Triathlon Training

I anticipate that corporates will implement more work from home, so there will be a bigger demand to create a community among workforces as they cannot spend long periods of time in an office. We can help corporates develop a community feel through technology, sport and activity and we are focused on delivering that. We will also use the Community Challenge to inspire the public and to build into our events for a longer footprint.

Of course, for us the pinnacle will be to deliver what we consider our first full Championship Series.

Super League has organised some very successful events, but the trick as a newcomer in the sport and a new rights holder is to put together a full calendar where you want it.

In 2021 we will have that ideal Championship Series in the locations we want and also the sequence we want.

Katie Zaferes and Cassandre Beaugrand Singapore 2018

I have always believed that we need to have a Championship Series that is impactful – back-to-back events in a small period of time so people know at that point of the year it’s all about Super League.

Fans can buy into the battles, the athlete’s facing off, winning one race, losing another, watching the dynamics play out over the weeks. The events really come to life because for the first time we will deliver it in the condensed nature we have always hoped for and believe will have the most entertaining impact.

Roll on 2021.

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