N WINNING BOTH THE IRONMAN 70.3 AND IRONMAN
Iworld championships last year, Jan Frodeno became one of the most famous sports personalities in Germany. The 2008 Olympic gold medallist was Germany’s athlete of the year in 2015, won a prestigious Laureas award and was in demand with sponsors and media alike.
In February Frodeno and wife Emma Snowsill, another Olympic gold medallist, celebrated the arrival of son Luka. (How scary is that gene pool?) Frodeno had won the first leg of the “Triple Crown,” Ironman 70.3 Dubai, which would reward him with a million dollars if he could defend his 70.3 world championship and take the final leg of the series in Bahrain in December.
Then the wheels fell off. A huge tear in his calf forced him to pull out of Ironman South Africa, where he’d planned on validating his Kona slot. He had to head to Ironman Lanzarote, where he finished second to American Jesse Thomas, to get the Ironman qualifying out of the way. Frodeno then focused his efforts on setting a new world-best time for the full-distance at Challenge Roth. His 7:35 clocking did that in style, but after the race Frodeno said he was both emotionally and physically shattered.
He decided to pass on the 70.3 worlds in Mooloolaba to focus on defending his Kona title.
Which was hardly going to be easy. Frodeno has always said that there’s nothing more challenging than racing a “motivated Sebastian Kienle.” Calling Kienle “motivated” this year is a huge understatement. The amicable German has been on edge for much of the year, singularly focused on getting the title he won in 2014 back. In Frankfurt for the Ironman European Championship, Kienle hammered on the bike but was even more aggressive on the run, as if to prepare himself for the challenge he knew lay ahead in Kona. In Mooloolaba Kienle was frustrated not to have been able to outkick Tim Reed for the title. (When asked at the pre-race press conference how he felt about the race in Mooloolaba, Kienle joked, “All I can say is that Tim Reed doesn’t want to be in a sprint with me any time soon.”) Which set us up for the dramatic men’s race that unfolded. As we’re used to seeing, Frodeno was amongst the swim leaders, but ended up not happy with the result of the swim. As he tried to drive the early pace, Harry Wiltshire positioned himself really tightly on Frodeno’s hip, hindering his ability to finish his stroke. So, instead of pulling away in a small group, Frodeno found himself coming third out of the water behind Wiltshire and Andy Potts and with lots of