Ironman extends special Kona World Champs invitation to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Triathlon Champions Flora Duffy and Kristian Blummenfelt.
Flora Duffy and Kristian Blummenfelt could line up at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on 9 October after Ironman announced a professional triathlete qualifying exemption for the Olympic Gold medallists.
“We congratulate Flora and Kristian on their fantastic performances in Tokyo and in celebrating their accomplishments, we are pleased to provide them the opportunity to carry their success to our world championship events,” said Ironman president and CEO Andrew Messick.
While some might question the free passes without even a validation Ironman race, neither athlete is a stranger to long-course events with both Blummenfelt and Duffy already having qualified for the 70.3 Worlds in St. George this September.
There’s also no denying the huge positive impact the move could have on triathlon as a whole – bringing those who’ve engaged with triathlon through the Olympics’ mainstream appeal to its most lasting and iconic event.
Messick continued: “The extension of these invitations to both the male and female Olympic Gold Medal winners aligns marquee events within the overall triathlon event calendar, showcasing just how impressive our professional triathletes are across multiple distances.
“After a very difficult stretch for the sporting world, we believe that offering these slots will help to continue to promote triathlon, including the accomplishment of those at the pinnacle of short course racing.”
Will Blummenfelt And Duffy Race Kona?
Getting qualification is one thing – racing is another so what are the chances of seeing the Olympic Champions toe the line in Kona?
Kristian Blummenfelt has already made his desire to win Kona public, with his intention being to earn qualification at Ironman Frankfurt on 15 August. The announcement from Ironman has changed Blummenfelt’s plans as he noted on Twitter:
The next World Triathlon Champion Series race is the Grand Final in Edmonton, Canada, on 21 August. Blummenfelt is currently in second place behind Britain’s Alex Yee and will have a much better chance of clinching victory without his first Ironman in his legs from the previous weekend.
The removal of Ironman Frankfurt from his racing calendar means the Norwegian could also go up against his fellow countryman Gustav Iden at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs on 18 September on his way to Kona.
It’s a long shot, but Blummenfelt could go into Kona as Olympic Champion, World Triathlon Champion and 70.3 World Champion too. Meanwhile, if he does win Kona, he’ll be the first athlete to ever win the Olympics and Ironman Hawaii in the same year.
The chances of seeing Flora Duffy line up in Hawaii are far more remote. The Bermudian is second behind Maya Kingma in the World Triathlon Championship rankings so is sure to try and clinch the title in Edmonton on 21 August.
While Duffy hasn’t mentioned Kona as part of her plan, she has previously stated her interest in racing the Ironman 70.3 World Championships on 18 September. She has also since confirmed that she will be racing at Super League Malibu on 25 September, the first USA-based race of the high-octane super sprint series.
Ironman might not have been on the cards for Duffy this year, but this superstar athlete will likely never be fitter than she is right now and this could be a perfect chance to test drive a potential future avenue for her career.