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Wednesday, December 3, 2003



Honolulu selected as site
of 2005 International
Triathlon Union event

The World Age Group
Championships could lead
to even bigger events
being held in Hawaii


With the Ironman already set on the Big Island, Hawaii has long been the place people think of when the subject of triathlons comes up.

Now Hawaii is earning its place as the proving ground for athletes aspiring to earn a gold medal in the sport.

The International Triathlon Union selected Honolulu as the site for its World Age Group Championships in 2005 yesterday, adding to the U.S. Olympic Team Trial and the Pacific Rim Championships in 2004. The Age Group Championships are scheduled for Oct. 8-9, 2005.

"Many of us broke into endurance sport in Honolulu," union president Les McDonald said in a statement. "To be returning with the world championships is like going on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of multisport racing."

Event organizer John Korff, who also handles the New York City Triathlon, hopes that the additional chance to prove itself to the triathlon world will eventually lead to making Hawaii a World Cup site and possibly the host of the Elite World Championships someday.

"My head thinks Olympics," Korff said. "That's why we wanted to make it that distance. If we do a good job, the entire USOC will know about it and we could bring other Olympic-level competitions in other sports. Not just running and swimming, other obvious sports like events for USA wrestling, USA fencing or weightlifting."

For Korff's vision to become reality, the Age Group World Championships will have to fly.

It is already expected to bring more than 2,000 athletes from 50 countries, and is currently being held in Queensland, New Zealand. Madeira, Portugal, gets the event, which was run for the previous eight years in Cancun, Mexico, next year.

As an Olympic distance event unlike the Ironman, the Age Group Championships include a 1,500-meter swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6 1/4-mile run. Triathlon has been an Olympic event since the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Qualifying races for the event will be held around the world, and the only way to qualify locally is to post a fast time in the Honolulu Triathlon in 2005.

The route for both races will be the same, taking contestants through a swim along Waikiki beach, a bike race around Diamond Head and a run through Honolulu.

Although it is not a race for elite athletes like the Ironman and Honolulu triathlons, local athlete Matt Seymour, who is the U.S.'s top-ranked triathlete under the age of 19 and is currently in New Zealand competing in this year's event, is expected to participate. Age groups are divided in five-year increments with six different divisions for disabled athletes.

October's 25th anniversary Ironman on the Big Island attracted a total of 1,647 athletes from 42 states and 42 countries. State officials said the race infused about $14.1 million into the Big Island economy.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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