Arena Games Partnership Is A Major Milestone For Triathlon

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Column by Super League Triathlon CEO Michael D’hulst

Super League’s partnership with World Triathlon (WT) is a major milestone for our sport.

The last 2 years have been challenging, but also brought forward so many exciting things. For SLT, this is probably the pinnacle.

The partnership with WT on Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift reconfirms triathlon’s ability to continue to be a very fast growing sport. It emphasises that as a sport we are forward thinking, dynamic and innovative and will inspire more people to think this is something they can actually do.

To have an esports event for triathlon is a sign of the future

The truth is that COVID has sped up the inevitable. This is something that probably would have developed over the next five years but COVID has accelerated that. My team at Super League stepped up, created a great new concept that has been recognised with industry awards and already grown a significant fan base through three world class events.

Super League World Triathlon Wc Female

The IOC wants to see formats like this, so without doubt, it is part of the future of sport. It must be. So it’s important that triathlon emphasises its ability to innovate and adapt and continue to grow.

I also think it’s an exciting future because I believe that semi-virtual sports opens it up to a whole new group of participants. There have been many discussions that virtual events will take people away from physical events and physical events companies will struggle, but I don’t think that is the case at all.
Virtual event participation makes sports accessible for more people, people who are time poor, maybe body shy, or just don’t want the cost or hassle of traditional events.

I strongly believe that professional sport leads and creates aspiration and motivates people to pick up an active lifestyle. Physical events and the experience they offer will always be a goal for mass participation but virtual events are both an easy step in and a great way to keep the motivation going. I can foresee a whole new wave of people participating in triathlon and making the sport arguably much more mainstream.

World Triathlon stands for wider participation, so we will open the Arena Games to more professional athletes and more federations. That is very exciting and entices the different federations to leverage the concept to grow interest in triathlon.

There will be athletes that will excel at Arena Games, at Super League, at Olympic distance and Ironman. There are interesting opportunities for a lot more athletes, which again is good for growth of the sport.

Engaging new and existing audiences

I also expect it will open our sport up to a new viewing audience. It suits a young audience. That is something triathlon needs and World Triathlon recognises it.

The popularity of Ironman has meant an ageing audience for triathlon. There is a need to bring a young audience in and be relevant to them. This blended event is more relevant.

Beth Potter Superleague Triathlon Arena Games London 2021 London Aquatic Centre Womens Race 27th March 2021 0269 980x692 1

Frankly speaking, if COVID hadn’t happened, it might have been more of a sticking point. Now however, even a 40 or 50 something has become very familiar with a virtual environment. Though the audience for Arena Games Triathlon will trend younger, it will appeal across the spectrum.

That also includes in a participation sense as well. By opening up more opportunities in the sport we have the best chance of getting more people involved. That is the future of triathlon.

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