2022 Canadian Male Long-Distance Triathlete of the Year
He says his season was mediocre. We say it was enough to earn our TOY honoursPhoto by: Kevin Mackinnon
He might try to tell you that 2022 wasn’t a good year, but the rest of us mere mortals would have been pretty happy with a season that included a silver medal at the Ironman World Championship (the first one of 2022 in St. George – officially the 2021 version), a win at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, the third fastest time of the day (behind Norwegians Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden) at the Collins Cup and an incredible sprint to the line for a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 California. And, while Lionel Sanders had a disappointing Kona performance, that runner-up finish in St. George, along with an impressive win in Mont-Tremblant over the other Canadian very much in the mix for this award – Jackson Laundry – is more than enough for us to give Sanders the nod as our Canadian Male Long-Distance Triathlete of the Year.
Related: Why Lionel Sanders is the most popular triathlete on YouTube
So, while Sanders described his 2022 season as “mediocre at best” in a recap video posted at the beginning of the year, here at Triathlon Magazine we beg to differ. And, even though he wasn’t able to defend his Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells title last December, from where we’re sitting, the brand-new dad’s fourth-place finish was solid considering just how much racing he’s done in the last 18 months. (That fourth-place result did complicate our final decision, though! Read on …)
Does that mean there weren’t other contenders? Hardly. As mentioned earlier, Jackson Laundry had quite a season, one that included a monstrous win at Ironman 70.3 California over Sanders and Alistair Brownlee. Laundry’s consistent performances in 2022 included a solid seventh-place finish at the 70.3 world championships in St. George, a couple of fourth-place finishes at 70.3 Chattanooga and 70.3 Los Cabos, third at Ironman Mont-Tremblant and a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells, just two days after taking eighth at Clash Daytona.
When you look at the head-to-head matchups, Laundry beat Sanders three times, with Sanders besting Laundry three times. When it comes to our Triathlete of the Year awards, though, we’ve always placed an emphasis on world championship performances, which helps Sanders get the final nod. (Not to mention that Sanders finished sixth in the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) world ranking, while Laundry ended up 29th.)
Another athlete we had to consider for the title was Matt Sharpe. The Tokyo Olympian continued his move to long-distance racing in 2022 with a win at 70.3 Boulder, a third-place finish at 70.3 Santa Cruz, along with a fifth at 70.3 Waco and sixth at Clash Daytona. If we had a rookie long-distance award, Sharpe would have nailed it.
Thanks to Barrie Shepley, Kyla Rollinson, Pierre-Yves Gigou, Lance Watson and Carolyn Murray for their input on our Triathlete of the Year awards.