Claudio Cellie, Madison Lowndes triumph

Over 250 talented kids take to the start line for the Abu Dhabi Junior Triathlon

By James Jose (

Published: Sat 15 Mar 2014, 11:20 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:18 PM

Before the stars get going on early Saturday morning, it was an opportunity for young upstarts to feel what it is like. And even though it is still early days, Claudio Cellie and Madison Lowndes could be the future stars of triathlon. Italian Claudio Cellie won the male category, while Madison Lowndes landed the spoils in the female segment of the 13-16 age group of the Abu Dhabi Junior Triathlon on Friday.

The event acts as a precursor to the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, the fifth edition of which will be played out, early on Saturday morning. Over 250 aspiring young triathletes took to the start line on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche and Olympic bronze medallist Jonny Brownlee gave the starting order.

And Cellie and Madison emerged triumphant after the three disciplines which involved a 300km swim, 9km bike ride and a 2.5km run. The 13-year-old Cellie, who studies at the Star International School, finished with a time 35 minutes and 44 seconds. He dedicated the win to his coac Trace Rogers.

“What an amazing experience! I had so much fun and it feels really good to be racing on the same track as Olympic champions and Ironman winners. I would like to dedicate my win to my coach Trace Rogers who constantly pushes me to do my best,” Cellie said after the race.

Meanwhile, Madison finished with a time of 38 minutes and 44 seconds. “I feel very happy that I’ve won it and I’m also very tired now! This is my first triathlon competition but I’ve been doing some training with Starfish triathlon and I carried on my running and swimming training outside of school, I like the running the most. I’ve always looked up to the Brownlee brothers so it was amazing seeing Jonny start the race. I think I’m going to continue doing triathlons and duathlons as I really enjoyed them,” said the 13-year-old Brit.

The event had two race formats for each of its age groups: 9-12 years old were eligible for the aquathon, which consists of a 200m swim and a 2km run. The second group from 13-16 years old competed in the full triathlon of a 300m swim, 9km bike ride and a 2.5km run.

To provide a pathway for the region’s budding triathletes to enter the sport and to encourage healthy living, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority teamed up with Daman’s ‘Activelife’ brand, to host the Abu Dhabi Junior Triathlon.

On Race Day, Daman scouted for the next generation of talented kids to fill 10 spots in its Champions Programme, a youth talent development initiative aimed at nurturing talent and creating future sports champions. The programme provides professional training and support for children displaying natural sporting flair and aims to create community role models who can inspire and encourage their peers to become ‘healthy lifestyle ambassadors’ whilst also supporting future triathlon stars.

UK’s Jonny Brownlee and Egypt’s Omar Nour supported the junior triathletes at the start and finish lines. Both the Elite athletes will be competing in the Men’s Short Course on Saturday.

And Jonny was pleased to see the interest for triathlon here in the UAE. “It’s really rewarding to see the sense of accomplishment and excitement on the kid’s faces as they crossed the finish line today — there’s clearly a huge appetite for triathlon here in the UAE and it’s brilliant to see the next generation of triathletes taking up the sport so enthusiastically,” Jonny Brownlee said at the finish line.

“Starting triathlon at a young age was the best thing I ever did and it’s events such as the Abu Dhabi Junior Triathlon that play a significant role in introducing the sport to youngsters,” added the 23-year-old Brownlee, who was introduced to triathlon at an early age before he made his international debut at the ITU World Junior Championships in 2008.

Meanwhile, Omar Nour said: “The Abu Dhabi Junior Triathlon, presented by ActiveLife, is one of my favourite junior events in the region and I am honoured to be a part of supporting ambitious young racers in every way I can. This event gives a boost to children and encourages them to get active from such a young age and everyone today went home with well-deserved medals!”

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