It turns out Kristian Blummenfelt won’t have to go quite as fast at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt next week to nail himself a Kona slot – earlier this week we reported that his goal for 2021 was to win on the Big Island to go along with Olympic gold and the World Triathlon Championship Series win.
Both Duffy and Blummenfelt have already qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah – Duffy won Ironman 70.3 South Africa in 2020, and Blummenfelt has won the last three Ironman 70.3 Middle Eastern Championship (Bahrain) titles.
“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. 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,” said Andrew Messick, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Ironman Group. “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.”
There have been two Olympic medalists who have gone on to become Ironman World Championships – Australia’s Michellie Jones took silver at the inaugural Olympic Triathlon event in Sydney, Australia in 2000 and went on to take second at the 2005 Ironman World Championship and the win in 2006. She has since been inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame. Jan Frodeno took gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 – he made his Kona debut in 2014, finishing second, and has since taken three titles – 2015, 2016 and 2019.
Both Jones and Frodeno ended up winning their championships years after their Olympic successes. In 2000 American Joanna Zeiger finished fourth at the Olympics then turned around just over a month later to finish fifth in Kona.
“One thing I get asked a lot is what is more memorable, an Olympic medal or my Ironman World Championship. I usually reply one is two hours and the other is nine hours, and both are meaningful, so it is a tough comparison. I truly treasure both accomplishments,” said Jones. “Having the opportunity to compete for an Ironman World Championship following the Olympics is a great privilege and challenge, especially given the rarity to date of athletes who have achieved the pinnacle of both great stages in our sport.”