USA Triathlon inducted five of multisport’s most influential persons into its Hall of Fame Saturday in a memorable banquet at The Broadmoor resort. Nearly 200 family members, friends, coaches, race directors and USAT staff came out to honor eight-time Iroman world champion Paula Newby-Fraser, 2004 U.S. Olympian Barb Lindquist and contributors Jim Curl, Carl Thomas and Valerie Silk, as they shared stories, laughs and their love of triathlon.
The expansion of triathlon from its Southern California roots in the early 1980s to its position today as one nation’s fastest-growing sports was evident in the remarks of each inductee.
“It’s a great honor. It scares the heck out of you, because you’ve gotta get up and give a speech in front of 200 people in the industry, of which 40 of them are the most important people around for the last 30 years,” said Curl, who also introduced Thomas just minutes after giving his own induction speech.
“There were people in that room that I knew 25 years ago, people that started things as great as anything that’s been started. So I was tense, I was honored. The strongest feeling was gratitude and the ability to be with all these people again, which doesn’t happen very often.”
“It’s huge. It’s hard to put into words, just because I’ve had – and still have – such a long and varied experience with triathlon and USAT. This is the culmination of a lot of different things, so it’s extremely special,” Newby-Fraser said after the ceremony.
About The Inductees
Jim Curl, Contributor
In 1982, Jim Curl, along with fellow inductee Carl Thomas, began the U.S. Triathlon Series. The USTS distance evolved and led Curl and Thomas to create what is now known as the Olympic distance (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). Through the series, Curl has produced over 150 triathlons internationally, and his involvement includes the creation of the Reebok Women’s Triathlon Series and events that have become some of the larger races in the U.S., such as St. Anthony’s Triathlon and the Accenture Chicago Triathlon.
Barb Lindquist, Post-1999 Elite Athlete
Barb Lindquist began her athletic career as a swimmer. She competed for Stanford University and was a member of the U.S. National Team until 1991. In 1996, she began her professional triathlon career and has been an integral part of the sport ever since. Lindquist was a member of the USA Triathlon World Championship team for 10 years, and in 134 career races, she won 33, stood on the podium 86 times and finished in the top 10 114 times. She was ranked first in the world from February 2003 through 2004, and placed ninth at the 2004 Olympic Games. Though she retired from racing in 2005, she continues to contribute to the sport, first as the coach of the Under-23 National Team and now as the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program Coordinator.
Paula Newby-Fraser, Pre-2000 Elite Athlete
Paula Newby-Fraser is considered one of the greatest triathletes to ever have competed. She has won more Ironmans than other legends like Mark Allen, Erin Baker and Dave Scott. Newby-Fraser won eight Ironman World Championships between 1986 and 1996 and has 24 total Ironman career wins. The world record she set for the Ironman distance stood for nearly 15 years. Newby-Fraser has earned multiple honors in addition to her championship titles, as she was named “Professional Sportswoman of the Year” in 1990 by the Women’s Sports Foundation, the “Greatest Triathlete in History” by Triathlete Magazine in 1999, and “Female Pro Athlete of the Decade” by the L.A. Times for the 1980s. She also was named one of the top five professional female athletes of the past 25 years (1972-1997) by the United States Sports Academy.
Valerie Silk, Contributor
The Ironman triathlon would not be where it is today without Valerie Silk. Silk served as the owner, president, CEO and race director for the Hawaiian Triathlon Corporation (now the World Triathlon Corporation) throughout the 1980s. She negotiated multi-year sponsorship agreements and network coverage through ABC’s Wide World of Sports. She also increased the volunteer base by over 2,500 volunteers and developed merchandising and licensing divisions for Ironman products and services. Ironman grew internationally, as Silk developed qualifying races in other countries, as well as the IronKids Triathlon Series.
Carl Thomas, Contributor
When Thomas was the vice president of marketing at Speedo Swimwear in 1982, he joined Jim Curl to create the U.S. Triathlon Series. The series quickly spread from the original five cities to 12 nationwide. The format of the series and the distance was considered ideal for Olympic competition, and Thomas predicted that by the time triathlon was an Olympic sport, hundreds of thousands of athletes will have competed at the Olympic distance worldwide. In 1984, he founded CAT Sports, Inc., creating network televised special events for a number of sports and acting as the executive producer of over 25 televised triathlon events for ESPN, NBC and other national syndications. Thomas also served as the first treasurer of the International Triathlon Union.
Press release provided by USA Triathlon.