The level of competition for the first ever Digicel Wadadli Tinman half-iron distance triathlon has stepped up a notch with the confirmed attendance of one of Argentina’s most accomplished triathletes.

Claudio Alejandro Delpueche has spent the last 25 years of his life traversing the globe bagging numerous titles in the upwards of 400 races that he has competed in across 40 countries.

Having competed in every distance available from sprint triathlons to the ultimate Ironman distance, the pro-triathlete has declared the half-iron distance his favoured and strongest event.

Now he has his sights firmly set on Antigua & Barbuda’s half-iron distance race and is among the favourites to be crowned the first ever Digicel Wadadli Tinman.

Delpueche explained that his decision to come to the island originated from a chance meeting at the ALBA games in Venezuela with two of Antigua’s top triathletes – Wayne Henry and Andre Simon.

“It was a great opportunity to meet athletes from Antigua & Barbuda months ago. It was so great that I started working with them also. To see the work and dedication on their part was motivation to be part of what those athletes are and be in the event and make us one triathlete more,” Delpueche said.

Delpueche, who has since been coaching several national triathletes in preparation for the gruelling Digicel Wadadli Tinman in January, has spent the last 15 years of his career juggling a coaching and a competitive career in the sport.

As a coach, Claudio’s achievements include currently having two triathletes in the highest global circuit and recently the classification of a Paraguayan triathlete to the Pan American Games.

His coaching career has also taken him places he would not have expected and given him a taste of the glamorous Hollywood life.

“During my time in California, I had the great opportunity to work in Hollywood with several actors including No Doubt, and Real Andrews (who played Marcus Tagger in General Hospital). They both managed to complete the Ironman world championship in Hawaii twice,” Delpueche said.

“Currently I am training and compete with Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Maxine Bahns, Alexandra Paul (Baywatch), Jose Solano (Baywatch) and many more. Today, there are many actors involved in the sport and my favourite event is in San Diego, California, the Challenge Athlete Foundation Half Ironman, where many actors and celebrity of different sports get together for a great cause,” Delpueche said.

Organiser of the Digicel Wadadli Tinman Cleofoster Harris said the Argentinian’s presence is a massive boost to the event in its inaugural year.

“I know last year St Kitts and Nevis brought down the then reigning Ironman World Champion Chris “Macca” McCormack to race there. They have been doing triathlons there for several years now, so for us to have one of Argentina’s finest athletes come to Antigua in the first year of this race is pretty amazing. And word is, there might be more coming,” Harris revealed.

The experienced athlete is also hoping to lend his vast coaching experience to the development of triathlon in the country during his stay and the Antigua and Barbuda Triathlon Association is working on arrangements for Claudio to run a coaching course off the back of the Digicel Wadadli Tinman.

It’s something the Argentinian is excited for and he’s confident the talent is available on the island to develop world-beaters.

“The triathlon is new in the Caribbean, and is a new sport in world. In the past, I participated in other training programmes which led to several top-level triathletes in the world. New blood is something that you find in the Caribbean and like Jason Wilson from Barbados (who placed seventh at the recent Pan American Games) there will be others that will be appear and have the opportunity to,” Delpueche said.

“It’s thanks to events such as the Digicel Wadadli Tinman which will lead to and motivate new triathletes and new opportunities … and having the opportunity will motivate more kids to get involved and succeed as a person, athlete; plus the organisation and the entire country will just be proud. Best wishes and see you on the beach … where the triathlons start,” Delpueche said.

The Digicel Wadadli Tinman is a unique sporting challenge where competitors in four sports: swimming, cycling, running and triathlon compete over a gruelling 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile cycle and 13.1-mile run on January 29, 2012.

The Digicel Wadadli Tinman is made possible by support from its sponsors: Digicel, OBSERVER Media Group, American University of Antigua (AUA), Xtreme Health and Fitness, Cedars Pottery and Adventure Antigua.

This event is hosted by Wadadli Triathlon Club and endorsed by Antigua & Barbuda Triathlon (ABTRI) Association and Ministry of Sports.