The future of triathlon looks bright
Looking back at the last weekend of sport, makes one realise that there’s a new wave of young talent sweeping the world. There is a generation of gifted athletes and never before have such talent been as highly trained or skilled with the ever advancing field of sports science and coaching. With this arsenal at their disposal and the fearlessness and determination of youth on their side, the prospect for the future is breathtaking.
While 22-year-old Irishman Rory McIlroy was busy claiming his first major at the US Open, tearing up the record books along the way, triathlon was witnessing its own 22-year-old phenomenon break some records of her own. Canada’s Paula Findlay took her third successive Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event and her fifth in all, to now lead the record books in most all time wins. Considering she has only raced in eight Series events in total, that win-to-race ratio (sitting at a remarkable 62%) is unparalleled in the women’s competition.
Only Alistair Brownlee – the elder statesman of the pair at the ripe old age of 23, can rival those statistics. Brownlee has won an amazing 75% of all the Series races he has entered. Out of the 12 races he has entered since the Series started back in 2009, Brownlee has stood on the top podium spot for nine of them. Considering he has spent much of that time injured, it’s a bewildering statistic and should strike fear into those looking to reel the young British athlete in. Had he not collapsed trying to stay with Gomez’s blistering sub-30 run in London last year, he could well have made that 10 out of 12.
Certainly Findlay and Brownlee are setting new standards when it comes to the level of the sport. With the return of Chris McCormack last weekend in Kitzbühel, there was much talk about how the sport has evolved over the years. It’s a fair statement to say that even the greats of the sport such as Mark Allen, Erin Baker, Greg Welch, Miles Strewart, Simon Lessing, Michellie Jones, Emma Carney and many others would struggle to match the standards of the sport today.
With swim times continuously creeping lower, and the competiveness of the swim increasing all the time, it is difficult to get out of the water with a clean lead. Now while there has been much talk of the competiveness of the bike in recent times, the fact is that the athletes are still averaging 45 km/hour on the bike on tight technical courses, with breakaway’s reeled in at any opportunity. Finally, the fact is, to win competitive Series races now the men may need to run a sub 30-minute 10 km run and the women will need to run a low 33-minute 10 km. The standard of these competitions are mind boggling.
What also is striking is the humility and unassuming nature of these rising superstars. For somebody like Rory McIlroy being compared to the likes of Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus, it would be very easy to become arrogant and over-confident. However McIlroy seems to have an air of modesty and humbleness not often seen in athletes who are at the pinnacle of their sport. Brownlee and Findlay too, process this rare demeanour. One only has to look at the way in which Alistair waited for his brother Jonathan in Madrid, so they could celebrate a historic one-two together. Listening to their multiple post race interviews, both Findlay and Brownlee are still remarkably unpretentious in their statements and have never appeared conceited in any way. While Alistair now seems to have accepted winning at the top level as a common occurrence, Finlay still is brimming with excitement after every race, like a kid who has won their first ever medal at a schools race. One only has to have the pleasure to meet either athlete to realise how remarkably friendly and approachable they are.
Regularly now it seems that the combined age for the two gold medallists at a Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event could still race in the 50-55 category of the ITU Age Group World Championships. There’s a revolution under way in the sport, something astonishing, something wonderful, a ‘trivolution’ if you wish and it’s led by two young prodigies named Findlay and Brownlee.
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