190202 schoeman
After Schoeman won the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, he has gone from strength to strength including a win in Abu Dhabi in 2018 and collecting gold at 2018 Commonwealth Games. Image Credit: Organiser

Abu Dhabi: Henri Schoeman, defending champion from South Africa, will go head-to-head with the current world champion Mario Mola from Spain in the men’s race at the Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi next month (March 8-9).

In the women’s category, Abu Dhabi 2018 winner, the Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer will face off against current world champion Vicky Holland of the UK and world no. 2 from America, Katie Zaferes.

Like previous years, the event will see the launch of ITU’s global World Triathlon Series in the capital with 110 of the world’s best triathletes descending on Yas Island in their bid to secure precious Olympic qualifying points and start their season in the best possible fashion.

Ever since Schoeman won the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he has gone from strength to strength including dominating the field in Abu Dhabi in 2018 and collecting gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Schoeman said: “I can’t wait to get back to Abu Dhabi. Everything clicked into place last year — I led the race from start to end so of course, I have great memories of the race and winning in Abu Dhabi. That win led to me taking gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia — it would be great to start my 2019 in the same fashion! It’s taken plenty of work and sacrifice to get to where I am today — so it’s satisfying when things fall into place like they did in Abu Dhabi. I’m excited to battle it out on the blue carpet once again in March!”

Ladies’ defending champion Rachel Klamer is also looking for an encore at Yas Island as a win this year would make her the first repeat ladies champion. “There’s no denying that the race in Abu Dhabi last year will always hold a special place in my heart — after all, it was my first WTS win! I love the course here in Abu Dhabi, and Yas Island is an awesome backdrop for a triathlon. I’m excited to be competing here once again in March, and hope that the cheers from the Abu Dhabi crowd are just as loud, if not louder!”

Hot on Klamer’s heels will be last season’s overall champion, Vicky Holland. Like Schoeman, Holland has seen her form improve in recent years, having first secured a Bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the coveted World Champion title in 2018.

Perhaps somebody feeling less pressure is Spaniard Mario Mola, one of the most vibrant triathletes on the circuit is returning to Abu Dhabi seeking his third title in the capital. The three-time world champion, however, has never won since the event has been held in Yas Marina and will be looking to end this anomaly. “I’ve won twice in Abu Dhabi — but I haven’t quite managed to get the top spot since the race moved to Yas Island. I’m hoping 2019 will be the year that I conquer the Yas Island course, and get my hands on an Abu Dhabi hat-trick! Starting the year with a good race is always a great confidence boost for the upcoming season, so I look forward to having a good performance in Abu Dhabi and to building from there.”