By Shannon Jayawardena
The Ironman 70.3 Colombo Expo was launched yesterday at Shangri-La, with 3,000 sports travellers estimated to attend from across the world.
The event will showcase a range of local products and sporting goods.
The opening ceremony was inaugurated by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara together with the Ironman organising committee. K.M. Shashi Madushanka, one of three visually impaired participants taking on the full Ironman course of swimming, running and cycling, was the first athlete to register.
The expo will continue until 25 February at the Grand Ballroom of Shangri-La, with entrance free for all sports lovers and the general public.
The first ever South Asian Ironman will be the meeting point of 880 athletes, well-wishers and spectators, together with several stallholders who will have the opportunity of showcasing their brands and gaining recognition.
Pro-Am Serendib Director Rajan Thananayagam said: “It’s a very exciting day as a lot of hard work has proven its worth. It’s a good time for us to celebrate how far we have come as we built everything from the ground up. It’s truly a time for us to be proud as Sri Lankans.”
“Moreover, it’s not so much about the event but about what we can do for the country and our contributions towards our country. These are indeed exciting times,” he added.
The occasion will give local vendors a chance to showcase their products to the world while placing Sri Lanka on the global sports map. The 3,000 estimated sports travellers have already arrived in the country in preparation for the triathlon along with their families and friends, in turn greatly increasing tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka.
Similarly, local cottage industries and handicraft stores will be given the chance to engage with athletes and tourists, thereby creating economic opportunities for the local handicraft sector. Event officials said that they hope to host a sustainable and environmentally friendly event.
The exhibitors include MAS Holdings, Garmin, Selyn, Bansons and Sifam, and they aim to stimulate the interest of both local and foreign athletes and all potential tourists.
Ironman 70.3 and the Colombo Expo is organised by Pro-Am Serendib in association with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau as the event’s title sponsor and Shangri-La as the host hotel. The official apparel partner is MAS Holdings, official electronic media partner is MTV and the official logistics partner is Hayleys Advantis.
Ceylinco VIP is the official insurer, Dilmah is the official tea partner, Siddhalepa is the official wellness partner, Land Rover is the official vehicle partner, Asiri Health is the official medical partner and Hayleys Tours is the official travel partner.
The event’s official media partner is the Wijeya Group, official food and beverage partner is Elephant House, official nutrition partner is SIS, the official outdoor media partner is Emerging Media, official sail partner is Sail Lanka, official digital partner is 230i and official research partner is LMRB. The official bike mechanic is Spinner and the official swimming training partner is Rainbow Swimming.
-Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe