The International Triathlon Union, headquartered in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has signed an $18m nine-year sponsorship deal with BG Group, a natural gas business. The ITU's flagship event series is now renamed BG Triathlon World Cup.

Triathletes go gas powered

The new partnership, which will last at least until 2014, and is worth at least $2m a year, is to "support the sport’s global development at both grass roots and elite levels," said a statement from the International Triathlon Union.

Charles Bland, Executive Vice President, BG Group said:

“BG Group’s commitment is deliberately long term as we intend to help the sport achieve its global objectives at the elite level but also in growing participation at grass roots.

“Triathlon appeals to people of all ages and fitness and provides wider social benefits through sport participation as well as leaving a positive environmental footprint. We have been impressed by the success of ITU to date, in the speed with which they have established triathlon as an Olympic sport and the culture of commitment, equality and inclusion they have fostered among the athletes and national federations.”

In 2006, BG Group funding will boost ITU numbers with three new roles including the appointment of former US triathlon team coach Libby Burrell to head the sport development programme aimed at increasing participation levels across the globe.

BG’s cash support will also lead to an increase in athlete prize money for World Cup and World Championship events and the development of new national federation affiliates and global marketing campaign to raise the profile of the sport.

Richard Stannard, a British triathlete and athlete representative on the ITU Executive Board, said:

“Having a successful career in triathlon requires support from a whole team of people and organisations. This support is more readily available in some countries than others. To know that in future, athletes from developing nations could have the same access to top level coaches and events as richer nations can only enrich the sport and guarantee a whole new generation of triathletes.”

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