Looking Ahead to the 2020 World Champs

Con Doherty Russell White Malmo 2018

It has been almost six months since there was an international triathlon staged, and the excitement surrounding this weekend's Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon is palpable. Announced last week as a standalone 2020 World Championships, the race is now the sole event in this year's World Triathlon Series. With a new course outside of Hamburg and a new distance, the event is shaping up to be a fast World Championship race with a stacked field in both the men's and women's sprint distance events. 

Many of the world's best triathletes will be in attendance, with hugely stacked fields in both individual races containing the reigning World Champions Katie Zaferes (USA) and Vincent Luis (FRA), as well as multiple former World Champs and Olympic medallists.

the course

Some 10km north of the traditional WTS Hamburg venue, the 750m swim in Lake Stadtpark transitions to a flat 20km bike with six fast laps ready to shuffle the pack and determine which athletes head out of T2 and onto what could be a lightning-fast 5km run with the best chances of becoming World Champion.

Team Ireland are ready for the challenge and with the largest ever squad travelling to a World Champs, the Irish triathlon community will be cheering them on. A series of COVID-19 precautions have been taken to ensure athlete safety ahead of the event including multiple swab, temperature and respiratory tests in Ireland and Germany. All Irish athletes will remain within a distinct pod for travel purposes and will self-isolate upon their return to Ireland.

The team

A team of seven Irish athletes are en route to Hamburg. Con Doherty, Maeve Gallagher, Carolyn Hayes, Erin McConnell and Russell White will contend the individual races on Saturday while James Edgar and Ian Manthey are in contention for selection for the Mixed Team Relay World Championships on Saturday.

Russell White_2020 World Champs PhotoShoot_2

The most experienced of the squad is County Down's Russell White, who is anticipating an exciting race;

"This is my fifth Grand Final at senior level, so I'd like to hope I'm used to it by now. But the fact that this year's been so strange, no-one knows what form anyone is in. You don't know if anyone's peaking or what sort of training anyone's been doing. It is just nice to get a race and other than the world title, the race won't count towards anything so there will be a lot of people taking big risks and going big because there's no points on offer, there's no Olympic rankings it's all just for that podium so it will be an interesting dynamic."

Speaking from his home in Westport, Con Doherty has been putting a lot of work into his run over the lockdown period;

“I am confident but I don’t know what anybody else has been doing, but that’s actually nice because in a race you can’t think or judge how someone’s form is from looking at their social media.”

Carolyn Hayes_2020 World Champs PhotoShoot_2

Limerick's Carolyn Hayes' main aim is next year's planned Olympic Games, and Ireland's top ranked athlete is looking forward to testing herself against the best in the world;

“I am super excited, obviously there’s nerves but they are the good nerves. This is my first ever World Champs and I am looking forward to lining up against everyone because that's the level I want to race at. Come the Olympics next year they are the people I will be competing against”


New to the senior ranks are Maeve Gallagher and Erin McConnell. Both athletes have previous international experience at junior level, with Maeve having her first senior win at the Dakar ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup in December last year.

Erin Gallagher_2020 World Champs Photocall

Current Elite National Champion Erin McConnell is looking forward to the weekend and has a plan for her preparation in the lead up to Saturday;

"I'm not going to change anything, just keep calm and I'm going to take this race as a pure experience, go in with an open mind and just enjoy it and race hard as I always do."

Maeve Gallagher_2020 World Champs Photocall

Maeve Gallagher originally would have been racing in the Junior World Championships, her last year at the level - but is relishing the challenge of taking on the high calibre Elite Women's field;

"In the Junior World Champs I was hoping to do quite well, it was my last year. Now giving it's the elite field I guess I'm going to be going in not the favourite but I'm still going to be going in with the same mindset that 'It's another race, another time to try and improve my times' and just give it my best shot really and just race who's against me."

How to watch

Six months have passed since WTS Abu Dhabi became the first international race of 2020 forced to be cancelled. In the months that followed, swimming pool access has been all but impossible, training options limited and race starts non-existent the world over. If returning to the start lines wasn’t exciting enough, the prospect of defending champions Vincent Luis and Katie Zaferes taking on the likes of Alistair Brownlee and Mario Mola, Flora Duffy and Jessica Learmonth, makes for an unmissable event, and you can watch it all unfold, as always, on TriathlonLIVE.tv.

There is currently 25% off TriathlonLive.tv packages to view the World Championships, you can view more on their website.

TriathlonLive 25percent GX

Coverage is also available live on the BBC Red Button from 14.40 on Saturday, 5th September.

The Elite Men's race starts at 3pm in Ireland, and the Elite Women's at 5pm.