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Great day for triathlon at flatwater centre

Laura Barton

By Laura Barton, Tribune Staff

The Welland International Flatwater Centre welcomed 165 triathletes to its course on Saturday morning for the Triathlon Ontario Draft Legal Provincial Championships.

Phil Dale, executive director of Triathlon Ontario, which put on the event, said this has been the most participants the event has ever gotten. Last year there were 134.

“We’ve been getting, every year, about a 10 to 15 per cent growth,” Dale said of the rise in participants, some of whom were as young as 14 years old.

He said that kind of growth is critical for the event because it acts as a developmental pathway to the Olympics. He said many young people use this level of competition to develop their skills and knowledge of how these kinds of events work, so to see the event continue to grow is encouraging.

“It’s sort of the first step into elite racing, with strict rules and rule enforcement,” he continued.

One of the rule enforcement techniques this event uses is having a penalty box. Dale explained that many other events simply deduct time from a competitor’s finish time if he or she breaks a rule, but at international levels, penalty boxes are used.

A racer is responsible for looking at a board posted outside the designated penalty area to see if his or her number is listed. If it is, that means there is time to be served. Dale said if the person doesn’t stop at the penalty box when his or her number is listed, it results in disqualification.

The last triathlete crossed the finish line around 10:30 a.m. and although Ontario Road was scheduled to be closed until 11 a.m., it reopened shortly after 10 a.m. as the last cyclist made her way toward the dismount point.

Dale said there was a slight delay earlier in the day as they spotted some lightning strikes, but the lightning and the downpour that came with it passed within 20 minutes and things were underway again.

He said everyone was pleased with the venue and overall it was a really good day for the event. This is only the second time the event has been held at in Welland, but Dale said they’re already looking ahead to next year.

“The feedback from everyone’s been great and we look forward to coming back next year,” he said.

The event was open to competitive and elite level triathletes as well as, for the first time, “age groupers” who could try the event out. The event also acted as a potential way for athletes to get provincial funding and Triathlon Ontario also chose members for its provincial team from the group.

lbarton@postmedia.com

Twitter: @LBartonTribune 



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