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They’re inspirational, powerful and changing the sport of triathlon from the inside out.
The staff at Inside Triathlon asked: Which 10 people had the most influence on triathlon in the United States in 2012?
Our list, ranked in order of impact, was chosen based on 2012 happenings—not based on influence since the creation of triathlon. It reflects the group of people who are directing the future of the sport, are changing the general perception of the sport—positively or negatively—or are molding the minds within the sport. Read about 2-10 here, find out who #1 is below. The complete feature is in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon, on newsstands now.
#1: Andrew Messick
World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) technically got its start in 1978 when a field of 15 started the first running of the Ironman, which was held on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
The Ironman wasn’t the first triathlon, but it was the most influential—drawing coverage from Sports Illustrated and ABC Sports that would augur a boom in multisport. Today, with nearly 190 events spread across 27 countries under its umbrella, 90 of which are Ironman or Ironman 70.3 races, WTC claims it has the “largest participation sports platform in the world.”
In 2011, Andrew Messick took over as CEO. He seemed to acknowledge fear of WTC’s power within the industry and its perception as a bully when he delivered a keynote address at the Tri America Conference in early 2012, saying, “I come in peace.” With a year at the helm under his belt, the general reaction to Messick’s leadership style and willingness to communicate has been a collective sigh of relief. When the USADA investigation of Lance Armstrong was announced, Messick elected to enforce WTC’s admittedly imperfect rule stating that athletes under investigation could not race in WTC-owned or operated races. By doing so, he prevented the inevitable firestorm that would have been set off once USADA’s evidence against Armstrong was revealed.
Messick’s previous corporate leadership roles as VP of NBA International and president of AEG Sports, the owner of more venues, sports teams and events than any company in the world, suggest the emphasis on the word “world” in the company’s moniker.
Messick’s vision for the global growth of triathlon? Long-term in nature, given shape by the nations with growing economies and the concurrent middle class looking for health and fitness lifestyles.
“There are very substantial parts of the world that have yet to be exposed to triathlon,” Messick says. Where economies are developing and a middle class is emerging, he added, the triathlon lifestyle can be a big draw. “Consider places in South America like Argentina, all throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East; there’s a role for us in all of those places.” In other words, Messick is charging forward to globalization triathlon beyond what others have imagined.
Path to Influence:
1989 | Dr. James Gills purchases the Hawaii Ironman and establishes World Triathlon Corporation.
2007 | Messick is appointed President of AEG Sports, where he oversees the Amgen Tour of California cycling race.
2008 | WTC is purchased by Providence Equity Securities, a private equity firm.
2011 | WTC announces that Andrew Messick will replace Ben Fertic as company CEO.
2012 | In May, Messick and WTC announce the acquisition of USM Events, the Australian multisport event company. In June, he upheld the ban that kept Lance Armstrong from participating in WTC events while he was under investigation.