The ITU’s new Director General Antonio Fernandez Arimany discusses the possible return of Kitzbühel to the WTS circuit, and says he is “very optimistic” that relay triathlon could be added for Tokyo 2020.
220: What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
Antonio: Triathlon, as we all know, has been growing exponentially in the last several years.
My most immediate projects will be to continue meeting the needs of athletes, as well as working with National Federations and event organisers to develop athletes and produce high quality events.
Developing the sport in regions where triathlon is not currently accessible is also a very big priority for us.
What can you tell us about your plans for ITU races in 2014?
In 2014, ITU races will continue with the same structure as this year, with the World Triathlon Series serving as our main race circuit and the World Cup races as the second tier event series that is used for athlete development.
We will introduce some new cities on the two circuits, but in the coming year the overall structure will remain the same.
All multisport World Championships will also continue on in their current capacity, but we will be looking to create a more sustainable race model for the future with the goal to make triathlon accessible for everyone.
Might we see an eventual return of the Kitzbühel event to the WTS calendar?
ITU continually seeks opportunities to provide unique and challenging courses for athletes.
Kitzbühel is hosting the European Championships in 2014, so ITU will have a presence there, but the race will return to its original course as opposed to the tough climb it featured this year.
Kitzbühel is a great example of how we are working to evolve and innovate within the sport. The race was extremely popular amongst athletes, so we would love to be able to provide that experience again.
Are there any plans to introduce new races in Asia?
Absolutely. Asia has played an important role in the development of ITU, with Ishigaki being our longest-standing World Cup event.
China is obviously a very large part of our development plans in Asia, and in the coming year Weihai, China will host the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, an event they’ve organised on three previous occasions at the World Series level.
We will also have a World Cup race in Chengdu, China next year, as well as a possible second World Cup in Jiayuguan.
There is huge potential for the sport of triathlon in Asia, so it’s a very big area of focus for us.
How optimistic are you that we will see relay triathlon races at Tokyo 2020?
Having mixed relay added to the Olympic programme is a main priority for us.
We’ve been working for a long time to have the event included, and the event has seen huge growth as we witnessed in our most successful World Championships to date this year.
The event is very spectator and television friendly, so it’s really ideal for the Olympics.
We are very optimistic about the chances it could be added for Tokyo 2020, but the leadership has just changed within the IOC so we will have to see the direction they take as far as adding medals to the Olympics.