2022’s Multisport Movers and Shakers
Here are the people to keep your eye on in the coming year.
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Each year, we look at the movers and shakers shaping our sport both on the racecourse and behind the scenes. You can check out last year’s Multisport Movers & Shakers—and stay tuned for where they are now.
With so much achieved in 2021, it was a hard group to top. But if anyone can do it, these Movers & Shakers can. To find them, we considered the trends happening in the sport, the big ideas that could change things, and the people helping to shape the direction of multisport. Who is working in front of and behind the scenes to do exciting, new, or interesting things? Whose name should you know (if you don’t already)?
We’ve put together a group that are going to do amazing things both this year and for years to come. Here are the people to keep your eye on in 2022. We’ll also have bigger stories on each of the individual Movers & Shakers over the next few weeks.Section divider
Although it might feel like the young American has already done plenty to move and shake triathlon, we aren’t alone in believing there’s much more to come in 2022—and, with his unique style, distinct brand (including t-shirts), and heartfelt YouTube videos, he may be setting the direction for American racing both on and off the course for the next few years.
There were several performances this year from the “Big Unit” that helped him stamp his authority on the triathlon scene and prove he’s now America’s fastest male long-course talent. His second-place finish at 70.3 Worlds was certainly one of them, but prior to that he’d already turned heads at 70.3 St. George when he ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Lionel Sanders all the way to an epic finish-line sprint.
When the pair met again at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Long made light work of Sanders on a staggeringly hot run course, going on to take the win in a course record time. And the fact that Long showed he’s got what it takes when the mercury rises was noted by those wondering how he might fare on his debut in Kona. Get ready to see Long (and hear his “Yo yo yo!” catchphrase) on many more podiums.
— Emma-Kate Lidbury
RELATED: The Big Unit Has Big Goals for 2022Section divider
Allysa Seely’s biggest win of 2021 didn’t happen when she successfully defended her gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. It took place months before, when her relentless advocacy secured a groundbreaking deal: For the first time in history, Team USA Paralympians would be paid the same as their Olympic counterparts for medal wins.
For athletes with disabilities, whose adaptive sport equipment can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and often isn’t covered by insurance), earning equal pay was a big victory. But Seely says correcting the pay disparity is only the beginning of her fight for equality. Up next: a stint as Vice Chair of the World Triathlon Athletes Committee—where she will be the first paratriathlete to serve on the executive board—and plans to make triathlon more accessible for athletes with disabilities and to raise the profile of paratriathlon.
“I want to change policy, to create equality, to force organizations to stop hiding our Paralympians, stop hiding our differences, and to stop devaluing us as athletes and as humans,” Seely said. “I want to ensure that races at the Olympic and Paralympic levels get the same amount of coverage, so that audiences around the world can see and appreciate and learn from the sport.”
— Susan Lacke
RELATED: Allysa Seely is Creating Opportunities for All Athletes and All AbilitiesSection divider
The British Women
If you haven’t been taking note of the latest crop of British short-course triathletes, then you really haven’t been paying attention. While they might not (yet) have the individual name recognition of their British brothers, the Brownlees, a revolving cast of speedy ladies from the U.K. are always at the front of any WTS race.
Look at the Tokyo Olympics: The entire British women’s team was in the top 15—with Georgia Taylor-Brown leading the way with a silver medal. Crazier still, the 2020 WTS rankings ended with three female Brits ranked in the top 10, and there are five British women in the top 15 of the latest rankings as of this writing (three of whom weren’t even in Tokyo, that’s how competitive it is to make the team).
In short, the British women are just getting started. The rising star with the most potential might be former pro runner Beth Potter, who set a fastest-ever world 5K time last year before carving up the three-sport season with two WTS World Cup wins in two weeks.
Even with those wins, she admits she still has room for improvement: “I still need to find the last 400m of the swim and first three minutes of the bike—it’s a work in progress for the winter.” Fortunately, she’ll have lots of teammates to join her.
— Chris Foster
RELATED: The (British) Women are Coming!Section divider
At St. George this past September, Sam Holness became the first openly autistic triathlete to compete in a world championship—finishing the tough and stormy day in 5:44.
But Holness doesn’t plan on stopping there. After picking up triathlon just five years ago, St. George was only his fourth 70.3. This year, he’ll tackle 140.6 miles and continue training toward his goal of competing in Kona and eventually becoming the first autistic pro triathlete. He’ll also keep sharing his message that autism doesn’t have to limit your expectations.
Although he didn’t speak until the age of 6 and teachers initially told his parents not to expect much, Holness now has appeared on Good Morning America and the U.K.’s Sky News, and done presentations on the benefits of sport. His dad is his coach and together they’re still working out some of the challenges around routines, managing anxiety, communication, and GI issues (all common autism symptoms), but Holness’ motto keeps him training towards a higher goal: Autism is his superpower.
— Kelly O’Mara
RELATED: There’s No Limiting Sam HolnessSection divider
Back in 2011, when Michael D’hulst (right) decided not to return from sabbatical to a corporate career at Volkswagen, but to instead pursue something in sports, his dad flew to Taiwan to tell him he was crazy. In 2016, when he launched Super League with Chris McCormack and Leonid Boguslavsky, people thought the idea of making short-course triathlon into a mass spectator sport was a pipe dream.
Now, with an exciting championship series and a team model in 2021, broadcast TV deals, and a partnership with World Triathlon that will crown an eSports world champ in 2022, none of it seems so crazy after all.
“I really consider it my baby,” he said. An avid triathlete and triathlon nerd himself, D’hulst wanted to bring inspiring professionals to the masses and help create a format that has spectator and broadcast appeal. A Belgian who lives in London now, he knows that’s an easier sell in Europe than in the U.S. But that’s the next hurdle they’ll tackle.
“We need to convince the American market that short-course is cool,” he said. “It used to be cool.”
— K.O.Section divider
Though World Triathlon president Marisol Casado (center) has been in office since 2008, it’s only in the last few years that her full impact has been felt on the international and Olympic sports scene. At Tokyo 2020, thanks in large part to Casado’s efforts, triathlon added another event to the Olympic program—the popular mixed relay.
Her efforts go far beyond triathlon, though. As of this writing, Casado is one of only four female heads of any Olympic sports federation (golf, curling, and ski mountaineering being the others). “We are only a few, but the situation is better than a few years ago,” she said.
Bolstering that representation—and that of triathlon—Casado was also recently named to the Future Host Commissions for the International Olympic Committee, which means she’ll play a pivotal role in deciding where future Games are held.
“I will make sure that our sport, and our sport needs, are always considered when deciding the next host of the Olympic Games,” she said. “As I am also a member of the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Coordination Commission, it is also granted that triathlon will have a great position in the next Games. This means that our sport will have a stronger partnership with the Games that will benefit us all.”
RELATED: Marisol Casado Gives Tri (and Women) a Big VoiceSection divider
The former pro triathlete’s name might not ring a bell, but if you’re interested in fairer racing in our sport, he should be your new hero. Elvery and co-founder Dylan McNeice, both from New Zealand, have developed one of the hottest new pieces of tri tech: a device that attaches to racers’ bikes and not only detects drafting during an event, but also helps racers stay legal while letting referees catch cheats.
The cutting-edge technology, dubbed Race Ranger, can be leased by race directors to help ensure a fairer event—significantly reducing drafting through both education and enforcement.
“Early on, we tried lasers on bikes, but that didn’t work,” Elvery said. “After that, it was a dreamer’s hobby for a couple of years. Then I spent two months online every night all night trying to find the technology that would do it. I found something that was used in warehousing—ultra wide band—what’s come out in the Apple Air Tag.”
From there, it was just a matter of enhancing and expanding it to fit triathlon and drafting. Think: broadcasting serial cheaters’ info live to refs on motorbikes to help target the worst offenders. If nothing else, the specter of Race Ranger could significantly reduce potential cheaters and force our sport to tackle one of its most consistent complaints. The big question now: Will triathletes who hate drafting vote with their wallets and demand race directors use it?
RELATED: The Future of Draft Policing Began With LasersSection divider
Bertrand Newson & Matt Fitzgerald
Two years ago, Bertrand Newson (left) left a lucrative career in the hospitality industry to go all-in on his endurance coaching career. “I could not be happier,” said Newson of the move—and he wants to bring that passion now to others as the head of the 1,000+ member Too Legit Fitness in San Jose, California.
Newson found running later in life, as a larger runner at over 200 pounds, he said, and, while navigating his coaching certifications, as one of the few people of color in those rooms. So when his mentor and friend, Matt Fitzgerald (right), approached him about starting a Coaches of Color Initiative to get more coaches of color into endurance sports, he was all-in on that too.
The program launched this year, with a stipend and mentorship for one grant recipient, but will also provide tiered networking and opportunities for the other applicants. They hope to expand off their success in the years to come.
“We want to have a big impact on a small number of individuals,” Fitzgerald said. Then those people can go on to have an impact on dozens and hundreds more athletes—just like Newson does now.
RELATED: Bertrand Newson and Matt Fitzgerald Want to Grow the Number of Coaches of ColorSection divider
Can you name the best long-course coaches in the world? If Dan Lorang’s name doesn’t spring to mind, it should. When Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug won their respective titles at the Ironman World Championship in 2019, their victories meant Lorang (center) became the first (and only) coach to have trained both the male and female Kona champions in the same year.
His stable of athletes now also includes the Ironman 70.3 world champion Lucy Charles-Barclay (they started working together in 2021), up-and-comer Frederic Funk, and German ITU star Justus Nieschlag. He’s also previously worked with American Sarah True and Kona podium finisher Brit David McNamee.
He’s one of few triathlon coaches working full-time in professional cycling too, as the head coach and head of innovation at the Bora-Hansgrohe professional cycling team. With 2022 being an action-packed year of long-course tri racing, we are fully expecting this typically under-the-radar German to be thrust more into the limelight.
“There’s a big year ahead if everything goes according to plan,” he said. “For Jan, Anne, and Lucy we will have two long-distance world championships [St. George in May, and Kona in October], and additionally, for Lucy, there is also the Sub8 project.”
He is acutely aware that “every season could be the last one” for both Frodeno and Haug, but with Charles-Barclay he’s excited for their longer-term goals too, which include trying to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. And with Lorang in her corner, it might just be possible.
RELATED: Getting to Know One of the World’s Best Triathlon CoachesSection divider
Until recently, there were close to zero resources to help athletic women navigate one of the most challenging times of their lives—but Selene Yeager is helping to change that.
Menopause used to be a word rarely uttered in public, let alone talked about, discussed, and celebrated by endurance athletes, but thanks largely to Yeager’s podcast, Hit Play Not Pause, and her menopause community, she’s helped bring the discussion into the mainstream. Yeager, a writer, coach, and athlete, believes she’s found her calling with this work and has already helped educate people of all ages about the far-reaching mental, physical, and emotional impacts of menopause and how best to mitigate them.
She’s also made it clear she is only just getting started. In 2022, she plans to grow her podcast, as well as expand the membership program she’s started, Feisty Menopause.
“We will also be branching out with in-person events, including a book launch event for Next Level with Dr. Stacy Sims in May, a hybrid Feisty Menopause Summit in the fall, as well as other experiential events,” she said. Women everywhere are reaping the rewards.
RELATED: Selene Yeager is Bringing Menopause into the MainstreamSection divider
When Camille Baptiste first started feeling the effects of burnout and a lack of enthusiasm for training and racing, she did the opposite of what most of us might do. She didn’t quit; instead, she formed her own events company.
Tired of having so few local races in her home base of Austin, Texas, Baptiste decided to do something about it and launched SwimBikeRunFun Events at the end of 2019. Despite struggling through the pandemic, she has now doubled down on her mission and proudly oversaw a number of races in 2021, including The Chucks & Pearls 5K and 10K trail runs, the Sisters Super Sprint Tri, and the Veteran’s Day PinkStrong Shero Ride, in honor of women who served. These have helped drive plans for even more in 2022.
“Our goal is to create enjoyable events that keep triathletes involved in the sport for a longer period of time, as well as to foster an environment that exposes and encourages new women to participate in triathlons, duathlons, and cycling,” she said. “Our PinkStrong Multisport Challenge Series sums up our message: ‘Be bold, be strong, say yes to adventure!’”
— E.K.L.Section divider
Diana Bertsch (fourth from right) still thinks about the time in 1995 when she got to cross the finish line in Kona after qualifying for the Ironman World Championship as a Hawaii resident.
“I think that’s what continues to drive me today, knowing what that means and what our athletes put into it,” she said. When Bertsch started as the Kona race director in 2003, she had a staff of three. “I had absolutely no idea what I was doing,” she said.
Now, 18 years later, Ironman’s world championship races have grown and expanded into new formats and regions, with Bertsch at the helm as the senior vice president of world championship events and 25-30 people working on her team (along with local operations staff). And next year is going to be the biggest yet.
In May, Bertsch will head up the delayed 2021 Ironman World Championship, the first ever outside of Hawaii, in St. George, Utah. Then, it’s a two-day 2022 Ironman World Championship back in Kona, with its own set of logistical challenges, and then a two-day 70.3 World Championship back in St. George.
“Next year is a big year,” she said—with nearly 15,000 athletes competing in an Ironman brand world championship race. It’s a daunting challenge, but one that’s also an opportunity, she said. For her team, the goal is to make every event the best event it can be for all the athletes who worked so hard to get there.
“We’re in the dream business,” she said, and there’s no better business to be in.
— K.O.Section divider
Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold & Dr. Lisa Ingarfield
Don’t tell Shaunna Payne Gold (left) or Lisa Ingarfield (right) to “stay in their lane,” because there are no lanes anymore. There never should have been.
“So many people think that DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] work and endurance sport don’t connect to each other,” Payne Gold said, “but they inherently mix and are inherently overlapping.”
After an experience in a triathlon Facebook group in 2020, where people of color were told their stories of racism and harassment in triathlon spaces were “too political,” Ingarfield and Payne Gold felt compelled to help athletes connect the dots between endurance sports and the world at large. The result was [un]phased, a podcast that challenges people in practical (and engaging) ways to think critically about how our sport can do more and be better when it comes to issues of race, gender, and disability.
“A person’s identity and what they experience in their life are not separate from their training and their participation in sport,” Ingarfield said. “You can’t pull those two apart.”
In 2022, they’re taking the next step by partnering with Gabriela Nunez* to create Shift Sports, a consulting organization to help races, clubs, and organizations remove barriers to participation and create a sport where everyone is truly welcome.
*The print issue of this story listed Gabriela Gallegos as Ingarfield and Payne Gold’s partner in Shift Sports. It has been corrected.
RELATED: Shaunna Payne Gold and Lisa Ingarfield are Changing the Conversation of SportSection divider
Ayaka “Faith” Suzuki
For the last few years, the triathlon industry has been carefully eyeing the growth and expansion of the sport in Asia. But what happens on the ground? While triathlon has a long history in Japan, navigating the scene can sometimes be daunting for new athletes: laborious registration processes, various and differing rules to follow during training and races, and—if you’re not from Japan—the language barrier.
Fear not, Faith is here to help. During the day, Suzuki (who goes by Faith) serves as communications manager for Samurai Sports, a small startup that coordinates with race organizers around Japan to help them run registration, communications, and generally be a point of contact for athletes at more than 40 events. But Suzuki’s mission continues after hours, where she continues her work to expand the sport to new groups of people, particularly women.
Besides being an ambassador for Women for Tri, she is also one of the leaders of Triathlon in Tokyo, a multisport community for international amateurs and veterans, where people can meet and train together, plan for races, and learn more about the sport.
As a leader, she is focusing on making the community more inclusive, especially for beginners and women. “If you come to Japan for triathlon, you will have a friend and a person who will support you. That is what I have been doing,” she said. “My main goal is to be helpful.”
— Alfredo Molinas
RELATED: Ayaka “Faith” Suzuki is a Force Behind Japan’s Rapidly-Growing Tri Scene