Coast will host 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships
THE Sunshine Coast will host 3000 of the world's top athletes after beating international rivals to become the home of the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
Locally based hopefuls such as Melissa Hauschildt, pictured, will take on competitors from across the world in Mooloolaba.
Ironman Australia chief Geoff Meyer said the event would bring more than $30 million to the Sunshine Coast economy.
"Don't underestimate how big this event is," he said.
Following yesterday's $30 million announcement that the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships were coming to Mooloolaba, Ironman Australia boss Geoff Meyer said the Sunshine Coast would be centre of the triathlon universe.
Meyer told media at the Mooloolaba surf club yesterday morning the Coast beat bids from Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and across Australia to become the first site in the southern hemisphere to host the prestigious race.
"Today the world is going to be abuzz about the Sunshine Coast," he said. "The ironman fraternity around the world is going to be talking about the Sunshine Coast, and it starts today."
The event will draw 3000 competitors, including some of the best athletes on the planet, and Meyer is tipping a $30 million boost to the local economy.
"This event over the last few years that it has been held in Las Vegas has been generating an impact of between 25 and 30 million and that is direct spend," he said. "That's not marketing. That's not media. That's direct spend.
"Our forecasts for this event are going to be on par with that, so it is a huge, huge injection for the Coast."
The event consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run and is half the distance of the full-length Ironman World Championship, which is held in Hawaii every year.
Sunshine Coast councillor Jason O'Pray, who holds the Tourism, Sport and Major Events portfolio, said hosting the half-ironman race was the equivalent of winning Gold Lotto.
"You imagine if the Sunshine Coast won Gold Lotto and won 10, 15, $20 million as we've been talking about - dumped it in the middle of the district ... and said, 'Businesses, share that out'. That's what this is," he said.
While the race will draw some of the world's top athletes, it is also a boon for locals such as Natalie Dellow, 32, who is travelling to Quebec, Canada, to compete in this year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Dellow, a competitor in the 30-34 age group, said the cost of travel was a major deterrent for competitors without professional contracts.
"To have to go to Canada this year is a massive stretch financially and time-wise," she said.
"To be able to do it on your doorstep is super exciting."
The Coast is already the training ground for several professional ironman competitors including Dellow's brother, David; Caroline Steffen, David's wife; 2012 world champion Pete Jacobs, 2013 world championship runner-up Luke McKenzie and reigning ironman 70.3 world champion Melissa Hauschildt.
"You are standing in the centre of the universe for triathlon," O'Pray said.
"Make no mistake, this is the singular greatest region in the world for triathlon."