Edmonton will be home to the top triathletes on the planet this week.
After much uncertainty, the World Triathlon Championship Finals is returning to the Alberta capital Aug. 21.
“The fact that our world championships is only three weeks after the Tokyo Olympics, we got some of the top athletes and one of the best fields of the year,” general manager Stephen Bourdeau said.
READ MORE: Norway secures gold in men’s Olympic triathlon
The finals will feature five of the six Tokyo Olympic medalists on both the men’s and women’s sides.
“Some would argue it’s an even better field than Tokyo because in Tokyo countries can only have two men, two women, three men, whereas, they can have more here in Edmonton,” Bourdeau said.
Canada’s best triathletes will also be competing, including Tyler Mislawchuck and Matthew Sharpe, who are back from the Olympics. Sharpe is a veteran of the Edmonton race, with his best result coming in 2016, an 11th place finish. The B.C. native is looking forward to returning.
“It’s just such a well-run race. You go there, you know you’re going to be treated exceptionally well,” Sharpe said.
“The race is going to go off super smoothly. They’ve been doing it for years, so they know exactly what they’re doing there.”
Sharpe and the rest of the athletes will be racing in front of a crowd. One-thousand people have been approved to watch from the grandstands at no cost, along with those who want to watch along the course.
“If you got the opportunity to come out and watch us, we’re going to be putting on a show for you guys. We’re super excited to just have the roar of the crowd again,” Sharpe said.
READ MORE: Edmonton Triathlon done for 2020 with more losses expected for summer sports schedule
Bourdeau and his team have had to get past many obstacles over the past 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event’s general manager said there were times he thought the race might not happen,
“We had to look at the event through a different lens. We knew it was not going to be the event that was originally scheduled for 2020,” Bourdeau said.
He credits the support of government, Sport Canada and the business community for making it happen.
“We’ve been so lucky. We have a lot of corporate partners who have supported us for 20 years, and they’ve come out in droves, asking, ‘How can we support? This event is great for Edmonton; it’s great for our recovery for the community, so what can we do,” Bourdeau said.
Bourdeau said the event’s health plan was approved in early August. It involves athletes having to quarantine for three days upon arrival in Edmonton. Following the three-day quarantine, they will only be allowed to leave their hotel to train at specific times and they will be shuttled to and from training prior to the race.