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 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 here, find out who #4 is below and check back throughout the week to find out our complete list. Don’t want to wait? The complete list is in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon, on newsstands now.
#4: Chris McCormack
“The Lightning Rod”
The primary fuel for Chris McCormack’s influence on the sport is his fearlessness whenever the microphone is in front of him. In interviews and press conferences, he has consistently delivered quotes that either placed him in the spotlight and/or set off enough emotion to produce epic rivalries. With sweeping confidence, Macca infamously predicted that when he started racing the Hawaii Ironman in 2001 he was out to match the likes of Dave Scott and Mark Allen by winning six times (to which Dave Scott replied, “I would start out by winning one”). While McCormack’s predictions of winning the Ironman annually collapsed into failures during his first years racing on the Big Island, his self-assurance—at least publicly—remained intact, and he continued to use the media spotlight as a tool to try to get into the psyche of his opponents. The most famous of McCormack’s rivalries was with German Normann Stadler, which culminated after the 2006 Hawaii Ironman in a heated argument at a post-race party.
It was this chain of bombastic comments and others that have kept the eyes of triathlon fans securely fixed on McCormack’s every move, regardless of his success or failure on the race course.
In 2012, the two-time Ironman world champ tried to make a comeback on the ITU racing scene with the goal of making the Olympics (he didn’t), then switched gears to race in Kona. When Lance Armstrong was still in the picture for the Ironman, vintage McCormack taunts flowed through the Internet. “I want to smash him,” he said in June. “I look at my strengths and his, and he won’t be able to run with me.” Even without the Olympics and without Armstrong, McCormack has continued to bring with him (and his 150,000+ Twitter followers) the talent, the tactical brilliance and the all-out swagger that has long held sway over fans of the sport across the globe.
Path to Influence:
1997 | Wins the ITU World Championship.
2002 | Wins Ironman Australia.
2007 | Wins Ironman World Championship.
2010 | Wins second Ironman World Championship.
2011 | Details the strategies and mind games used throughout his career in his autobiography, I’m Here to Win.
2012 | Returns to ITU racing to attempt to make Olympics. Fails to make team but wins ITU Long Course World Championships. Returns to Kona and DNFs.
Guess who’s #3 on our list based on her Path to Influence:
2004 | Races her first triathlon in Eton, England, a sprint race, finishing third.
2006 | Wins her age group and posts the fastest female time at the ITU World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, in a time of 2:17:32.
2007 | In October, during her first year with Team TBB and coach Brett Sutton, wins her first Ironman World Championship title in Hawaii.
2009 | In winning her third Hawaii Ironman, breaks the course record in 8:54:02.
2011 | Breaks the women’s iron-distance world record with an 8:18:13 finish at Challenge Roth, following the effort with her fourth win at the Hawaii Ironman in October.
2012 | In January, announces a break from competition to focus on dedicating more time to charity and promoting her new book, A Life Without Limits. Later in the year, she announces that she is officially retiring from Ironman racing.