Thousands lined the streets of Leeds yesterday for an event which showcased not only the world’s best triathletes but also the growing status of our city on the international stage.
Just a few weeks after hosting the climatic finish to this year’s Tour de Yorkshire, Leeds was back in the spotlight as it provided the backdrop to the latest event in the ITU World Triathlon Series.
Roundhay Park and the surrounding area provided the setting on Saturday for a day of events suitable for triathletes of all abilities, before the attention turned to elite races that brought competitors in the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds into the heart of the city yesterday.
Crowds lined the route to cheer on the athletes, while those lucky enough to have a seat in the grandstand at Millennium Square got the chance to see Great Britain’s Vicky Holland and South Africa’s Richard Murray take the women’s and men’s titles.
Anne Keer, 43, and son Cameron, 13, had travelled from Scotland to take part in Saturday’s races before watching the elites in action.
“It’s really good,” Anne said. “I’m watching it and thinking ‘I was there yesterday in that water, running up that hill’. It’s a really friendly city too.”
David Kirkland, 57, from Sheffield, said they had been every year since 2016.
“It’s just being close up to the athletes, the whole experience, the atmosphere,” he said. “You can’t beat it really.”
Some took to social media to complain about the disruption to traffic and bus services, but city centre resident Becky Dam said she thought sporting events like these were great.
She said: “We were saying how nice it’s been not to have cars on the road today. Everyone it out walking, cycling. There’s a community spirit in the atmosphere.”
It is the third time the city has hosted the event, which is organised by British Triathlon in partnership with Leeds City Council, UK Sport and the ITU.
British Triathlon chief executive Andy Salmon said: “It has been a fantastic weekend of action. We have seen hundreds of first timers take on the triathlon challenge and also celebrated the world’s best racing through the streets of Leeds in front of another fantastic crowd. This event has once again demonstrated its ability to show off our sport at every level.”
City council leader Judith Blake said the event had captured the imagination of the public since it began in 2016.
“We are immensely proud to showcase our city to the world through this event and to see some of the sport’s greatest triathletes really enjoy competing here,” she said.
She also thanked all those who had played a part in making the weekend a success.