It was a “phenomenal” sporting triumph for the city of Leeds, as 80,000 people lined the city’s streets to watch the best triathletes in the world swim, cycle and run for glory.
And after the success of the inaugural Leeds leg of the prestigious ITU World Triathlon Series on June 11 and 12, international officials have today confirmed that the home of the all-conquering Brownlee brothers has been chosen to host the event again next year.
The move, which had been strongly suggested due to the huge crowds who came to roar on the athletes, was announced by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) as it revealed the dates and locations of the places around the world selected to host races.
The Leeds event representing the UK will be held on the weekend of June 10-11 2017, again as a partnership between Leeds City Council, UK Sport, the ITU and the organising team of British Triathlon and IRONMAN.
It means the city could see repeat of the scenes as supporters queued six deep to watch Alistair Brownlee and brother Jonathan claim a superb one-two in the men’s elite race. The women’s race was won by US star Gwen Jorgensen, with Leeds-based Vicky Holland finishing strongly in third.
Prior to the elite races, which started with a 1,500 metre swim in Roundhay Park, followed by a 42 kilometre cycle and 10,000 metre run in the city centre, thousands of amateur athletes took on triathlon events over the weekend.
Many of the leading triathletes hailed the experience as being the best of any ITU World Triathlon Series race ever and to be compared to the triathlon races at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Olympic champion and winners of the ITU World Triathlon Series Leeds Alistair Brownlee said: “Winning at home in Leeds is something that I’ll never forget, and I’m so grateful to everyone who came out and supported us on the day. To hear already that we have the opportunity to return next year is fantastic news.”
His brother Jonathan added: “My ears were ringing for days with all the cheering, it was absolutely brilliant, so I hope that the city of Leeds is excited as I am about the event returning next year.”
Some of the amateur athletes taking part in the race were left disappointed by logistical problems which meant they were left waiting for hours to collect their possessions after the race. Organisers have since apologised and promised a review of what happened.
My ears were ringing for days with all the cheering, it was absolutely brilliant, so I hope that the city of Leeds is excited as I am about the event returning next year.Jonathan Brownlee
Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, said: “We are thrilled that the ITU has chosen Leeds to again host a round of the World Triathlon Series in 2017.
“The elite races at the event earlier this month were fantastic to experience, the crowd support and atmosphere was absolutely electric, so we look forward to working with the ITU, British Triathlon, UK Sport and all the partners involved to make it even bigger and better next year.
“In a hugely successful first year for both spectators and elite athletes, we learnt a great deal about delivering an event of this scale across the city.
“We know there are aspects which can and must be improved upon and we will support British Triathlon to ensure everyone taking part has a wonderful experience as part of something very special again here in Leeds next year.”
ITU President and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Marisol Casado said: “In its debut on the ITU World Triathlon Series this year, Leeds proved to be a phenomenal host, with crowds of people pouring into the streets to cheer on the world’s best triathletes.
“We have no doubt that the challenging course and roaring atmosphere will make for a great race again in 2017.”
Jack Buckner, Chief Executive of British Triathlon, said: “To be able to put triathlon into the heart of a major city, right in front of people on the streets and on live television is really important in terms of the profile of our sport, and I’m delighted that the ITU World Triathlon Series will be back in Leeds in 2017.”
The elite men’s and women’s races were broadcast live on BBC television and to more than 20 countries around the world, with more than a million people in the UK alone watching the men’s elite race.