Can Kristian Blummenfelt Win the Olympics and Kona?

Kona invitations were extended to both the women's and men's gold medalists—we break down what that means for a busy fall of racing.

Photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images for IRONMAN

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The Olympic champion has already made his ambition known: to become the first person to win the Olympics and Kona in the same year. (To date, Jan Frodeno’s the only person to have won both—though he’s done it in different years.)

Kristian Blummenfelt’s path to doing so just got a little easier with an invitation to the Big Island this fall. Ironman officials have confirmed that both Blummenfelt and the women’s gold medalist, Flora Duffy, have been extended invitations to compete at the Ironman World Championships in October 2021. According to Ironman, this is the first time they’re aware of these invitations being granted to the Olympic champions. While double gold medalist Alistair Brownlee has also previously sought to go after this marquee double, he qualified for a Kona spot via the regular process—and not mere weeks after his Olympic achievements.

The extension of these invitations to the gold medalists “aligns marquee events within the overall triathlon event calendar, showcasing just how impressive our professional triathletes are across multiple distances,” said Ironman CEO Andrew Messick.

It also makes Blummenfelt’s schedule a lot less busy.

Blummenfelt’s coach Arild Tveiten said that once the Kona spot is 100% confirmed, it would negate the need for Blummenfelt to race Ironman Frankfurt in two weeks in order to qualify.

His original plan had been intense, even for him: race Ironman Frankfurt in Germany on Aug. 14, race the World Triathlon Grand Finale in Edmonton, Canada on Aug. 21, and then race Kona on Oct. 9—while potentially fitting in some Super League events, though he hasn’t decided yet. (Blummenfelt will not be racing the Collins Cup or 70.3 Worlds, because that would really be too much.)

Now, if he doesn’t have to race in Frankfurt it clears up a lot of extra miles—and actually catapults his teammate Gustav Iden to the front of the “crazy schedule competition.” Iden, who took 8th in Tokyo, will be racing the Collins Cup in Slovakia, 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah–where he is the defending champion—and then the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Iden had earned his Kona slot by virtue of his 70.3 Worlds win in Nice in 2019.

What does it take to excel at all those varied distances and races?

According to coach Tveiten, who is the sports director for the whole Norwegian team, their typical training is good for everything from sprint to 70.3, “but special IM training and distances are something new for him, so we are going into a little unknown terrain. But based on tests [Blummenfelt] should be capable to perform at  the highest level also there, with some special training towards Hawaii.”

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The women’s gold medalist, Flora Duffy, isn’t currently planning to make her Ironman debut at Kona, but she has her own busy schedule to tackle with the World Triathlon Grand Finale in Edmonton, 70.3 Worlds in St. George (which she qualified for with her one previous 70.3 race), the Super League races in September that she has publicly committed to, and then the sprint and mixed relay world championships in Bermuda a week after Kona—which would also mark the homecoming celebration for excited Bermudians to cheer on their first-ever Olympic gold medal winner in any sport. If she crammed the Ironman World Championships in there too, she would definitely win for the most packed race schedule of all.

Check out more about Blummenfelt’s unique training and workouts:

More on the new Olympic champion, Flora Duffy:

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