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Triathlon News & Notes: New U.S. Hall of Fame Inductees, ‘Sports Illustrated’s’ 50 Fittest, and New E-Tri World Champs

The news from around the multisport world this week.

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Ashleigh Gentle retires from World Triathlon Series racing

Ashleigh Gentle, the venerable Aussie triathlete and two-time Olympian, is the latest short-course athlete to move to longer distances. The 31-year-old posted that she will no longer be racing on the World Triathlon circuit and “had some of the best times of [her] life racing on the blue carpet,” but that she will be stepping away to take on new challenges in the middle distance world. Gentle has already shown prowess at the 70.3 distance, winning in her debut in Xiamen, China in 2019 and placing third at the Sunshine Coast 70.3 in September of 2020.

Sika Henry picks up Varlo sponsorship 

Sika Henry, the first African-American female pro triathlete, announced her partnership with Varlo, a black-owned apparel company founded by Soj Jibowu. In conjunction with the announcement, Henry shared a moving ad for Varlo, featuring a dramatized glimpse into her journey as an athlete from the time she learned to swim as a toddler to present day, narrated by her dad (who makes an appearance in the ad, along with Henry). Regarding her decision to team up with Varlo, Henry posted, “I fell in love with the team’s vision for the brand, passion for the sport, and support of their athletes.”

USAT Triathlon announces new Hall of Fame inductees

This week, USA Triathlon announced the 11th induction class of its Hall of Fame. Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen, two-time Olympian Laura Bennett, and age-group multisport athletes Lesley Cens-McDowell and Robert Plant join an exclusive crew of just 43 other Hall of Famers who have been inducted since 2008. “We are so excited to add these iconic athletes to the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame,” said Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame executive committee. “Gwen’s incredible rise to becoming an Olympic gold medalist is a story for the ages, Laura twice represented the U.S. at the Olympics and has given back to the multisport community following her professional career, and Lesley and Robert’s age-group performances throughout their long triathlon careers show us multisport is truly a lifelong sport.” The four inductees will be honored this August at a gala in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in conjunction with the 2022 USAT Age Group National Championships.

RELATED: Recalled: The Legacy of Verne Scott

Singapore revealed as site of first-ever tri esports world championship 

On May 7, Singapore will serve as the site of the first-ever triathlon esports world championships, Super League Triathlon (SLT) and World Triathlon announced this week. Singapore is the final stop in the SLT Arena Games series, which will also include events in Munich (April 9) and London (April 23). The Arena Games, competed inside using a pool and Zwift on a treadmill and trainer, blends real-life and virtual reality to provide an immersive viewing experience for fans at home, who can watch some of the world’s best triathletes in head-to-head competition in real time. By partnering with World Triathlon, Super League Arena Games athletes will also earn points towards their World Triathlon rankings and the male and female athletes who collect the most points over the course of the e-series will be awarded the esports world titles.

The science behind Kristian Blummenfelt’s dominance revealed in NYT piece

The New York Times ran a feature on the science behind Blummenfelt’s dominance in triathlon, which included nabbing an Olympic gold in July and posting the fastest-ever Ironman in history less than three months later. The piece offers intriguing nuggets about the steps in which engineer and entrepreneur Aleksander Bu has taken to collect data on Blummenfelt’s physiology to improve his performance, including collecting blood, urine, and even fecal samples to measure metrics like how he metabolizes carbs. (Bu also had Blummenfelt drink a $2,000 bottle of water infused with oxygen isotopes that could be measured in his urine samples to gauge his oxygen efficiency). “As an athlete, it can be tricky to find improvements,” Blummenfelt said in the piece, “but when you go into the lab, it becomes easier to find your weaknesses—the areas where we think we can put more time and effort in, and improve.”

World Triathlon partners with ITA to oversee anti-doping programs

In an effort to keep the sport of triathlon clean, World Triathlon has tapped the International Testing Agency (ITA) to manage its anti-doping program. The Lausanne, Switzerland-based ITA will manage and conduct testing among athletes in and out of competition, and handle other measures to keep dopers out of triathlon, a move more important than ever considering three elite triathletes, Yuliya Yelistratova of Ukraine and Russia’s Igor Polyanskiy and Alexander Bryukhanov, tested positive for the blood-boosting substance EPO in 2021.   

Lucy Charles-Barclay to race Volcano Triathlon in February 

2021 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Lucy Charles-Barclay shared that she is getting a head start on her 2022 season by racing the Olympic-distance Volcano Triathlon on Feb. 26 at Club La Santa in Lanzarote, Spain. As in previous years, Charles-Barclay has been posted up at La Santa for her off-season training; she last raced the Volcano Triathlon in 2019, taking the win over Dutch pro Tessa Kortekaas by over five minutes. 

Ironman Maine 70.3 moves to August 

After several years in Old Orchard Beach, Ironman Maine 70.3 will move some 75 miles north to Augusta this summer. The course for the July 31 event is still being ironed out, but Ironman has shared that the swim will be in the Kennebec River and the run will take place along the Kennebec Rail Trail ending back in downtown Augusta. Priority registration starts Monday, while general registration opens Jan. 31. 

Flora Duffy among the Fittest 50

Another week, another accolade for Flora Duffy. The 2021 Olympic gold medalist is named in this year’s Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50, a list of the best-conditioned athletes in the world. The 34-year-old Duffy, who also won a record-tying third world championship in Edmonton as well as her sixth XTERRA world title in Maui, is the only triathlete on the list. 

RELATED: Video: What Does Training Look Like for Gold Medal Favorite Flora Duffy

Podcast Notes

  • Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom, the pro triathletes behind popular YouTube channel That Triathlon Life, now have a podcast of the same name. In the first episode, Paula and Eric chat with Nick Goldston, a songwriter/music producer and amateur triathlete.
  • Sports nutritionist Scott Tindal joins Triathlete Magazine’s Fitter & Faster podcast to talk about fueling and the biggest mistakes triathletes make when it comes to nutrition.
  • Lisa Roberts, former professional triathlete, is featured on Yogi Triathlete, where she shares about her pivot to ultrarunning and excelling in a new sport.
  • Dr. Dan Plews returns to The Greg Bennett show, where he talks about his research as a sports scientist, as well as his success as both a coach and as an age-group triathlete.
  • The Ironwomen podcast features pro triathlete Manami Iijima, who is aiming to become the first person to represent Guam in triathlon at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
  • The latest episode of MX Endurance podcast catches up on all the buzz in the sport and offerspredictions about the biggest races of the year and the athletes they expect big things from.
  • Up-and-coming pro triathlete Trevor Foley catches up with ProTri News; the crew also makes predictions for the 2022 season. 

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