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This week, as part of wrapping up our 2022 Multisport Movers & Shakers awards, we’re talking with one of our movers and shakers: Michael D’hulst, the CEO of Super League Triathlon.
Back in 2011, when he 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. Instead, one entrepreneurial adventure in sports led to another and another, and now he’s heading up the effort to—in his words—make short course cool again. 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 that brought their unique style of racing to millions of people, and a partnership with World Triathlon that will crown an esports world champ in 2022 using Super League’s Arena Games format, 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.”
We talk about what Super League has planned, how it could succeed, and what it needs to do next, primarily how to tackle the U.S. market.
And first before that, we brought on our own short-course expert, Chris Foster, to talk about which countries do treat triathlon as a spectator sport and what we think about the exciting new announcement that women’s triathlon has hit the target to become the next NCAA sport.