American triathlete Tim O’Donnell has announced that he will continue to shift his career focus in the direction of long-course racing and will forgo any opportunities to try to qualify for the 2012 Olympic team.
Instead, O’Donnell will continue to compete in several half-Ironman distance races and will make the jump up to the Ironman at Ironman Texas on Saturday, May 21 with the goal of earning points towards Ironman World Championship qualification.
“I decided this year I’m going to step up,” O’Donnell told TriCenter’s Ann Wessling at Saturday’s Endurance LIVE Consumer Show. “I’m going to make my Ironman debut at Ironman Texas.”
“I was planning on going for the 2012 Olympics,” O’Donnell continued. “I was close in 2008. The last two years I’ve been focused on the 70.3 series. I think my heart is really in long course. I’m really excited to make that step up.”
If O’Donnell does qualify for the 2011 Ironman World Championship race, he will likely be one of a few American contenders competing in Kona. The United States has not had a world champion since Tim DeBoom took the title in 2001 and 2002, and no male finished in the top 1o at the 2010 Ironman World Championship.
In an interview DeBoom did with Triathlete.com back in November, he mentioned O’Donnell as one of his top American picks to take the Kona title one day: “I think one of the next big guys who has a shot is Tim O’Donnell, when he comes up to the distance. I like him a lot, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s got a ton of talent. I think he’s reaching that age where he’s kind of jumping to that distance. I’d keep an eye on him.”