Where are the chest thumpers?

Would our sport get more exposure with more outspoken professionals?

| December 14, 2017 | NEWS

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

By virtue of it’s solitary pursuit Ironman has inadvertently shot itself in the self-promotion foot.

OK, let’s qualify this statement with a little sketch. To race Ironman you have to have a certain type of personality. While people say “oh, anyone can do an Ironman,” most people certainly cannot. The adage that all you need to do is train and show up on the day is a greatly exaggerated tale and does not hold up to close examination. To get to an Ironman start line takes a boatload of effort and time, a ton of support, a lot of luck and an armoured car load full of money. It’s an expensive endeavor. But we digress. So, the person who signs up for this most noble of athletic causes is going to be of a certain personality and persuasion. They are regular people certainly doing unregulated things. But this we knew.

For those who graduate to the big leagues of professional triathlon, this again takes a certain personality. It attracts a personality type that is generally defined as an A type. Some of the traits of this cohort are that they are competitive, ambitious, impatient and regimented. All the things we know about. Again, none of this should be surprising. But due to this type of personal and the solitary nature of the pursuit of Ironman, the chances to make a buck are limited. Added to that list is the niche nature of triathlon, lack of TV time and the unstructured nature of the pro ranks. Who is the world’s best triathlete? I can’t answer that. And, not knowing that is also factoring into the diminished main stream commercial interest. The chances of sponsorship for events and athletes makes a more compelling argument if you could quantify the level and the world ranking.

But, back to personality. Triathlon has a dearth of self promoters. Sure they do their bit for their bike shop sponsor, but there is no raft of personality like in other sports. Triathletes are not chest beaters, they are not fist pumpers and agitators. Many prefer to go about the business of trying to stay in business. They stay in their lane. Look at the likes of Craig Alexander, Jan Frodeno, Javier Gomez and Gwen Jorgensen. All these athletes are extremely successful, marketable and winners. But the common thread is they are of a very reserved nature. It’s not like I am looking for prima donnas, but the personality types are consistent, the press questioning obvious and answers given in predictable fashion. 

Being outspoken, gregarious, bold or even ludicrous just doesn’t fit this group’s mould. They are measured, organised and maybe too serious. Breaking bad on this mould might be a spark for the sport to embrace. Sponsors and the current internet coverage too may benefit from having a few of the more outrageous, outspoken, demonstrative pros rocking the boat and making some wild claims. With the 24/7 sports news cycle maybe something to liven up the pro group would help it along, given the recent set up we have seen.