Super League Triathlon returns for the first time in 2021 as the SLT Arena Games Powered by Zwift comes to London.
With a host of big names such as Jonathan Brownlee and Georgia Taylor-Brown stepping up their preparation for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo and long course stars such as Lucy Charles-Barclay and Tim Don testing themselves at a much shorter distance, triathlon’s most innovative format is set to deliver another incredible spectacle.
The SLT Arena Games is a blend of in real life and virtual racing that sees athletes pushed to the limit over three fast and furious races that include elements of eSports thanks to Super League Triathlon’s pioneering partnership with Zwift.
Saturday’s event at the Aquatics Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be broadcast to more than 179 territories around the world, as well on Super League Triathlon’s YouTube channel. The event also features two paratriathlon races.
Three-time Olympian and four-time world champion Tim Don, who famously came back to triathlon after a horror bike crash that saw him needing a metal halo screwed into his skull, is one of those taking up the challenge – despite recently turning 43.
He said: “Since I broke my neck, if a challenge comes my way I definitely accept it. I will commit 100 percent to a race and leave nothing out there at all. I am going to have to fight for every place. You can only do one thing in that kind of race – full gas.
“My motivation for racing the Arena Games is the challenge. It’s proving to myself that I can still be competitive over the super short distance against these young guys coming up. I’m not just this Ironman guy who is super slow and ‘been there, done that.’ Half of my PBs are quicker than these guys. I’ve been to more Olympics than they’ve had hot dinners, let alone won world titles.”
Lucy Charles-Barclay is a three-time runner-up at the Ironman World Championship and unquestionably Britain’s finest long course triathlete. Her decision to race short course with Super League has lit speculation that she may decide to turn her attention to the Olympics for 2024.
She said: “I’m definitely someone who loves a challenge. I love to throw myself in at the deep end. For a long time I have wanted to see if I could do the short course racing and see how I stack up against those top girls on the ITU circuit and this is going to give me the opportunity to find out. I want to see how I fare against them and give it my all.
“Super League is rocketing the sport into the future. Triathlon is such a big sport but not really as watched as it should be.
“Super League is making it exciting. There’s so much going on. It’s brutal. It’s quick moving and it’s something in the future I think we could have big crowds watching it and enjoying and supporting triathlon.”
Also in the field is defending champion Justus Nieschlag, who took the inaugural SLT Arena Games title in Rotterdam last year.
“The intensity of the format is huge,” said the German Olympian. “In the first stage it is like a normal triathlon, but with each stage it gets harder and harder and in the end it is just all about surviving. Never give up and fight until the finish line.”
Racing takes place from 3pm-5pm local time, with post-race analysis from expert pundits and participants via the all new ‘Short Chute Show’ immediately after the live broadcast on Super League Triathlon’s YouTube channel.