What is the relationship between Triathlon and a nation’s economy? Is Triathlon the most important sport of the future? Is it really that important? Well, give me few minutes of your time and see if I convince you with my beliefs.
Fact: Triathlon is the world’s fastest growing sport. Within the past year here in The Kingdom of Bahrain, I have noticed that the number of participants in locally organized triathlons is noticeably increasing through every event. Because triathlon is a sport that brings together swimming, cycling, and running, it encourages those in each discipline to see how would they do, if they added two more disciplines to theirs. This is what is noticeable today, while newbies are great in numbers; most of them are coming from swimming, cycling, and running backgrounds.
What is interesting in Triathlon is that it is a fun challenge. It brings the competitive ‘I can do it’ attitude out of each person, with an internal satisfaction ‘high’ that pleases the mind and soul once you have passed the finish line and received your finisher’s medal. You feel like a champion and you wouldn’t mind being sucked into this world that tells you it’s ok to grow, because there is always an age category you can compete in. You swim, and enjoy training to improve your swim, you cycle, and enjoy cycling with friends, and you run, and enjoy running like you’ve been born for it, all while shaping your body to be as mean as those characters in the movie ‘300’.
Triathlon is all about positive feeling, and feelings are important to investment, because people use them to make investment related decisions. Visiting a country in the form of ‘sport tourism’ is a major investment itself. The other day, I met the Assistant Under Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and he informed me that the ‘Gulf Cup’ a year ago, was a major turn around in Bahrain’s economy, after the sad event of 2011. People came to watch the games from all over the region, and then they started coming again. The next time Bahrain will host the Gulf Cup would be in around 10 years or so.
But in Triathlon, The Challenge Family have announced Challenge Bahrain a couple of weeks back. This annual event would bring thousands to Bahrain, filling up hotels, dining in restaurants, shopping, and much more. Triathlon is a sport that attracts average and above average income individuals, and participants usually travel with more than 2 friends or family members. Not to mention, wherever a major triathlon takes place, that location is showcased to viewers all over the world. For example, I want to visit a tiny village in France, because I saw it on TV during the Tour De France. In one weekend, Triathlon can indirectly generate up to $20 Million to a country.
The issue with triathlon is that when you relate it to running, it becomes an extremely expensive sport. You would need a running shoe of course, but the bike, wheels, swimsuit, and other equipment raises the price of triathlon a lot. So, those participating in running races I presume will always be more than those in triathlons. However, triathlon is a new sport, and it is growing fast. Today we see participants in a single marathon exceed 40,000 participants in some cases, triathlon today would not be able to keep up with these numbers. However, I believe that one day, when all bikes and gear are much affordable, we will be able to see 15,000 plus participants in a single triathlon. Maybe Australia and the US can lead the way here.
Is triathlon important? More than running, if someone wants to maximize his chances of doing better in a triathlon, he or she would have to do full body weight lifting along with the swim/bike/run training. Combining both cardio and resistance exercises are not only the healthiest type of physical training one can do, but in my case, as a diabetic, it can actually be a cure. While this region is full with preventable but not manageable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, training for a triathlon would ensure that you are a normal healthy happy human being.
This is barely scratching the surface of the significance of investing in sports tourism, or Triathlon in specific. So the next time you see a road closure, and runners or cyclists are passing in front of you, don’t honk in disagreement, get down, and start cheering, it’s for your own good.