Halycon Cove Warri Pier Restaurant, Mr. Rory Butler, Rohrman Director. Good evening to you all, and for those of you who are visiting a warm welcome to our beautiful twin-island nation, of Antigua and Barbuda.

I am delighted to be here this evening for the opening ceremonies for the 6th Annual AUA Rohrman Triathlon that has been organized by the Rohrman Sports Association.

This event, which is now held in honour of the late Jonathan Rohr a former Triathlete who attended the AUA medical school and who sadly passed away suddenly in 2011. This event has truly become a signature fixture on our sporting tourism calendar just as he would have wanted. Jonathan’s untimely passing has left us a great legacy in promoting the sport that he so dearly loved, and is one that we can all be proud off.

First of all, I would like to express my admiration for all of you that are here to participate in the triathlon. Triathlons, with three different endurance events, is known for being one of the most challenging sporting events in the world. Your dedication and perseverance in training to participate, and for some, compete is commendable. This goes for those that are here to compete in the full Triathlon, as well as the various categories of teams, mini, walk/run, beach run and age groups.

This inclusivity is what I believe sets the AUA Triathlon from others. Your organisers have done a remarkable job in developing a race structure that allows everyone to participate in a challenge that best suits their fitness levels. With over 9 events to choose from – there is a challenge for everyone, and all are welcome, including children with three different age groups!

The AUA Triathlon is about providing an energetic and exciting racing challenge for everyone – in one of the most beautiful settings in the world! As a backdrop you’ll be running, swimming and cycling along some of our most beautiful beaches and Southwest Coastline including Ffryes’s Beach, Turner’s Beach, Carlisle Bay and one of our largest pineapple farms at Cades Bay.

This is also the perfect time of the year to be participating in the event as you’ll see temperatures are hovering around 80 degrees and the Caribbean Sea is the perfect temperature for a swim.With thousands of triathlon events taking place across the globe, year-round, I truly believe we are hosting one of the best.

I believe athlete participation agrees. This is the first year since the inaugural year in 2012 that we’re welcoming over 300 participants!

I am also incredibly proud of the caliber of participants we are attracting from around the world. This year we are welcoming two of the world’s most accomplished athletes; David Hauss of France and Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand. David counts among his achievements a 4th place finish at the London 2012 Olympics and earned the Bronze in the 2010 European Championships while Andrea participated in the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics placing 8th, 6th and 7th respectively. She placed third in the 2009 ITU Triathlon World Championships. So congratulations to both Mr. Hauss and Ms. Hewitt for their outstanding achievements – to you we extend a very special welcome and we are very excited to have you here, and participating in this event.

Additionally, we have a 10-person team here being led by French Champion triathlete, and coach, Benjamin Sanson, a team of thirty from Guadaloupe and with many of you traveling from around the globe including the US, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada and more to participate in this fantastic event. We are incredibly honored to be welcoming each and every one of you to our islands.

As partners of this amazing event, I am particularly honored to be here this evening. The Ministry of Tourism and The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and has partnered with the Rohrman Sports Association since it’s inaugural year to help ensure that this sporting event takes place. As the Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, I can tell you firsthand how important it is for our nation to organize these flagship sporting events for both the sports community as well as for local residents.

Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy, contributing over 60% to our GDP and representing roughly 53% of the workforce – making it our primary industry. Our success as a nation relies on the success of tourism. And sports tourism is an important part of this industry. It contributes to the social cultural, economic and infrastructural development of our nation. Therefore, we are firm believers, in doing everything possible to support our various sporting events that we host throughout the year. We are incredibly happy with the success and growth of the AUA Rohrman Triathlon. So thank you for being a part of this success.

I realize that you’ve all been training for the Triathlon for quite some time, but I do hope that you’ll have some done time to discover the beauty of our twin islands and our people. I assume given your sense of adventure and activity in participating in the Triathlon that you’re interested in exciting activities and we have many for you to experience. You can go ziplining in our rainforest, we have many hiking trails including one that leads to the highest point on our island, Mt. Obama.

The thrill seekers among you can enjoy the various kayaking and snorkeling adventure options, as well as sailing and catamaran tours. If you’re a kite surfer, we offer the best conditions to take to the skies where we attract people from around the world to experience our phenomenal kite surfing first-hand. Additionally, we have Stingray City – where you can swim and feed the largest free roaming stingrays in the region

Obviously – if you’re looking to recharge we offer many spas and opportunities to relax on one of our 365 pink and white sandy beaches. For those athletes that are “foodies” we have countless restaurants around the island serving the best in gastronomy. While here you must try our world famous Antigua Black Pineapple. It’s the freshest and sweetest variety in the world and can only be found here!

We hope that you’ll enjoy the Triathlon and build strong bonds with our nation and people. We invite you to truly explore what makes us unique. By the smiles on your faces we can already see that you have fallen in love with us and we hope this will inspire you to return again and again.

Whether you are here for just the Triathlon or staying on to explore – thank you for visiting! We hope you have a wonderful stay, and a safe and successful Triathlon.

Best of luck for tomorrow – though I’m sure you will not need it! You’ll have the support and encourage met from the cheering local fans along your route!

Before I go, do permit me to finish with an inspiring quote from Dave Scott, Six-Time Ironman World Champion, “If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just to finish the race; it’s up to you.”

I’m confident you will all finish tomorrow and you will all be winners!

Good night and do enjoy the rest of your evening