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Jan Frodeno will not be returning to Kona this year to defend his title on the big island. In an Instagram announcement, the Olympian, three-time Ironman World Champion, and two-time 70.3 World Champion said complications from a bike crash will require him to undergo “two to five surgeries,” the first of which occurred on Thursday.
The 2022 season has been an unlucky one for Frodeno, who has been battling an Achilles injury that forced him to withdraw from the St. George Ironman World Championship race in May. At that time, Frodeno said in an Instagram post that foregoing St. George was part of his ultimate goal to race in Kona: “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.”
After a period of rehabilitation, he attempted to race at Challenge Roth in July. Though he looked to be in fine form as he led the race out of the swim and through the bike, his Achilles injury flared up less than two miles into the run, forcing him to make an emotional withdrawal from the race.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Frodeno said in an interview after the race. “Two-thirds of the race went really, really well. And I actually felt fantastic for 3 kilometers as well on the run, but it was just inevitable that the tendon was going to give me some grief.”
Days later, Frodeno shared on Instagram that things still looked promising for a full recovery, and that Hawaii was still very much on the table.
This is not the first time Frodeno has withdrawn from the Ironman World Championship due to injury. In 2018, he withdrew from the event just weeks before the race due to a stress fracture in his hip. That announcement was particularly shocking, as he had just won the 70.3 world championship title only days before.
“The highs and lows of sport have never been so close for me…winning a world title last week and being sidelined for the season the next,” he said. “Just a reminder to all of us that success never comes in a straight line.”
Frodeno has hinted in the past that this year’s Ironman World Championship might be his victory lap. On August 18, the champ will turn 41 years old. However, after his DNF at Roth, Frodeno sent mixed messages, telling German newspaper Augsberger Allgemeine “I’m in the fall of my career, but not in the winter.”