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Comment: Super League Triathlon was a brilliant success story, well worth the entry fee

Athletics | Published:

IN JERSEY we are quick to criticise poor political decisions that lead to a perceived waste of taxpayers’ money.

World stars competing in the Jersey – Richard Murray, Kristian Blummenfelt and Jonny Brownlee pulled in the crowds at the Waterfront last weekend

And so we should be; it is our right to scrutinise what our States members do with our taxes.

It is important, therefore, that when public money is well spent we offer our congratulations to those involved in the key decision making.

Last weekend, the Super League Triathlon bandwagon rolled into the heart of St Helier, backed by a £200,000 grant from the Economic Development Department.

A keen triathlete himself, Senator Lyndon Farnham was the main political driving force behind bringing the innovative and exciting new form of racing to the Island. But using public money to finance a largely unknown concept – before coming to Jersey Super League had only ever staged a trial event – could have been seen as a risky venture.

However, with Saturday’s glorious sunshine showing the Island at its best – and Sunday’s rain making for exciting television – Super League Jersey was a roaring success.

There was a buzz around the Radisson Blu – the hotel where most of the athletes and officials set up camp – for the entire week and Islanders turned up in their thousands at the weekend to catch a glimpse of world and Olympic champions on the Waterfront.

Broadcast live across the planet, and streamed online, the event potentially exposed the Island to hundreds of millions of households as far away as USA, India, China and Australia. Since the event, several newspapers, including the New York Times, have run stories on the competition.

We are still waiting for official figures from Visit Jersey as to how many tourists travelled exclusively to watch Super League, but we are told the athletes and officials alone accounted for 1,000 bed nights between them.

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For £200,000, bringing Super League to St Helier was excellent value for money; not just in terms of the global exposure Jersey received, or the boost to our tourism industry in the challenging month of September, but also the contribution of the athletes towards inspiring young Islanders. The Jersey Triathlon Club is sure to experience a positive legacy from the Super League.

So let’s offer our congratulations to Senator Farnham and his Economic Development Department – and indeed Fintan Kennedy, Nick Saunders and the other local triathlon club members who helped. But let’s also encourage our States members to explore options for bringing other high-profile sporting events to Jersey.

It is happening slowly but perhaps politicians – and civil servants – are beginning to appreciate the true potential of sports tourism.

Super League is the sort of celebration of sport Jersey can stage so well, as demonstrated at the weekend. First things first, Economic Development must reach an agreement with Super League organisers to make Jersey a permanent fixture in their series for many years to come.

Once that deal has been signed, let’s hope our politicians can entice events of a similar stature to the Island in the not-too-distant-future.

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