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Confirming recent rumors, reigning Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno has officially withdrawn from defending his title in St. George next month.
The three-time Hawaii winner was looking to become the first triathlete aged 40 to win the prestigious title, but has been sidelined through a partial tear of the Achilles tendon. Frodeno announced the news on his Instagram, saying: “It’s been a tricky time and unfortunately I’ll have to concede to the fact that I won’t be on the start line in St George.
“I’ve recently been diagnosed with a small partial tear of the Achilles tendon. That’s the reason my running didn’t progress past an hour, which even at the very best of speeds is not enough for a marathon.
“It’s gut wrenching and I guess after 2018 it’s the second time I won’t make it to a really big race I’d like to be at. It’s part of sport I guess, but it still doesn’t get any easier. For now, it’s time to play it a little bit safe. My dream is still to get to the Big Island of Hawaii and have a really, really great race there.”
Frodeno’s success has been nothing short of phenomenal since switching his full focus to long course racing in 2014. Despite that 2018 year, where he was forced to withdraw from Kona with a stress fracture, Frodeno has three wins on the Big Island (2015, 2016, and 2019) and owns the current course record. Frodeno has also won the Ironman European championship in Frankfurt three times, and remains undefeated since October 2017 when a back injury forced him to walk large parts of the marathon in Hawaii.
He has also twice won the Ironman 70.3 world title, in 2015 and 2018, the latter in a thrilling contest with Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez in South Africa that led to that Kona-ending stress fracture.
The German’s withdrawal is also disappointing for fans of the sport who were looking forward to an epic duel between the Girona-based veteran and the likes of Brownlee, Gomez, and the notable Norwegian duo, Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden. A much-anticipated showdown this past fall at Ironman California was called off when the race was canceled; Frodeno has not raced since, except for participating in his own SGRAIL 100 event.
A fourth Ironman world championship win would have taken Frodeno past Australian Craig Alexander and Canadian Peter Reid in the list of most Ironman world titles, behind Dave Scott and Mark Allen who both have six. He will now have his eyes on the October 2022 world championship race back in Hawaii.
Frodeno added: “Of course, when you have a partial rupture there is always a danger of more happening, so I’ve decided to hopefully play it smart, and prepare well, and get myself ready in the best way I can.
“Inevitably when you seek the limit, at some point sooner or later, you’ll find it and I’ve taken that step too far once again. But that’s part of my nature. It’s how I’m made up, So I’m going to push all I can and unfortunately it’s just a little bit too much.
“So, rehab time. I’ll be hurting watching from the side-lines but it’s stoking the fire for sure, and hoping for a return as soon as possible.”
Frodeno’s withdrawal is only the most recent high-profile name to be sidelined. Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 winner, is also out after breaking his shoulder in a bike crash. And Lucy Charles-Barclay announced a stress fracture of the hip last month that forced her withdrawal for the St. George race as well.