Boon for city

Chris Bastic with Ian Hogbin, David Burt and Gary Lenard at the Jetty Foreshores, venue for the triathlon.
Chris Bastic with Ian Hogbin, David Burt and Gary Lenard at the Jetty Foreshores, venue for the triathlon.

A GOOD thing is about to get even better.

The Bananacoast triathlon will attract the Country's premier triathletes next year after Triathlon Australia joined forces with local event organisers to expand the event, which will provide a million-dollar boon for the city.

The Bananacoast triathlon will form part of a three race Tri-Coast series, with other races held in Forster and Port Macquarie.

From 2005, the Bananacoast event will also include the Olympic sprint distance championships for the top 20 male and female elite athletes and one leg of the age-group national series.

However, organisers are adamant the presence of the elite-level competition will not mean an end to the youth and social elements which have made the event such a success in the past.

The children's event will be run on February 5, with the elite, age-group and teams events to take place the following day.

Triathlon Australia CEO David Burt said the race will bring the grassroots level competitors together with elite athletes for one blockbuster weekend.

"The Bananacoast triathlon has been developed into a very successful event over the last 16 years and this is a good chance for us to hopefully build it to another level," Burt said.

"But it is important that we don't lose the community involvement."

Deputy mayor Cr Ian Hogbin predicted a bright future for the event.

"The Bananacoast triathlon has been the mainstay of the Coffs sporting calender for many years," Cr Hogbin said.

"Council has for a long time recognised that sport is a major economic driver in the region so we looked at ways of ensuring this important race grows.

"Triathlon Australia will also support the work of Life Education by contributing $10,000 to continuing the program."

The State government, through the NSW Major Events Board, have provided funding for the event.

Major Events Board executive officer Chris Bastic said the event will provide a big shot in the arm for the Coffs Harbour economy.