Frodeno made his international debut at the Tiszaujvaros ITU World Cup in Hungary in 2003 with a 31st place finish before taking second at the u23 ITU World Championships a year later in Madeira. 2005 provided a hint of things to come when Jan took his first World Cup podium with a third place finish at the Beijing leg of the series. Three years later he would stand on the top step at the world’s biggest triathlon competition, the Olympic Games.
Name: Jan Frodeno
Debut year: 2003
World Series wins: 0
World Series podiums: 6
We spoke to Jan as he completed his final training preparation ahead of next week’s Madrid Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series in Spain to find out how his life has changed since his victory in Beijing, and why he is looking forward to the new season.
Did you think you could win gold going into Beijing? What were your aims?
Honestly I did. My thoughts are, if you don’t believe it, no one will. I really, really wanted that gold medal!
Did it help being seen as a ‘dark horse’ in relieving pressure and turning attention onto other athletes?
I’m not so sure, since I haven’t raced in a major race as a favourite to win. However I’m sure pressure comes from inside and so it’s all about the pressure you apply to yourself.
Can you talk us through the final kilometre of the race, how you felt when Simon Whitfield caught you up, going around the final turn, and then overtaking Simon for the gold.
Well, I can tell you that there was not much going through my mind. I saw Simon on the big screen, however I didn’t focus on any names. I knew it would take my best, regardless of what anyone else did.
I was happy when Simon went early, as we were all watching each other and I almost couldn’t resist initiating the sprint. When he kicked around the turn and took off at that great pace that only he and a handful of others can generate I knew it would be tough, but again, I just focused on the red finish ribbon and went for it without ever turning around.
When did you truly realise the magnitude of your win?
Yesterday?! It took me a long time, but I still catch myself in awe thinking about what happened.
How has your life changed since winning Olympic gold in Beijing?
The interest in me as a person has obviously become far greater. Also my day has changed from what I thought was a jam packed training day to a jam packed ‘media, organising and trying to get in the same training’ kind of day.
How has your success impacted on triathlon in Germany?
I think there’s a bit of a breakthrough in terms of recognition amongst general sports fans - the new series will be broadcast live on major television stations. I think it’s opened an opportunity to place ourselves amongst other previously bigger sports.
Where do you keep your medal?
In my bedroom.
How has winter/spring training gone for the new season? Did you have much time off after Beijing?
A definite yes! First I took a lot of time off, then I got really sick from trying to do all the media and arrangements that were offered and my body said no more. I’ve had a few ups and downs but now I think I’ve figured out how to balance things and also say no to things from time to time - after all, there’s nothing I would rather do than triathlon.
Do you feel added pressure to be successful?
From within me, yes.
The new Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series changes the dynamic of racing. Does the new series suit you, or do you prefer peaking for one big race?
I certainly enjoy it more. I love racing as much as possible, so I’ll see if it also suits me physically.
Where will we see you racing this year, and which race are you most looking forward to?
I’ll start in Madrid, then Washington, Des Moines, Kitzbühel, Hamburg and Gold Coast. Those are the definites but I’ll see what else fits in spontaneously. My aims are obviously going to be Hamburg and the final on the Gold Coast.
Do you have any role models in the sport? Who do you look up to?
I have great respect for a lot of guys, however I don’t look down on anyone and nor do I look up.
Were you nicknamed ‘Frodo’ before the Olympics because of your name, or after the Olympics because you became the ‘Lord of the Rings’?
Long before - because of my name and my dream.
Do you feel your height gives you an advantage in the sport?
If you look at the stats, then no. I’ve also been told I’m too tall to run quickly.
Away from triathlon do you compete in any other sports? How do you relax?
I really enjoy surfing and playing beach volleyball, although there’s not much time for it at the moment. Relaxing at present only happens when I am asleep!
Log on to www.frodeno.com for all the latest news from Jan Frodeno. An English version of his site will go online before the Madrid Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship race.