On Friday the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) announced its overall champions from 2023 – Germany’s Anne Haug and Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the same athletes who finished atop the 2022 standings. Each took home $100,000 for their efforts as their share of the PTO’s $2 million prize pool.
We’ve been working our way through our 2023 Triathletes of the Year in a variety of categories, but figured that Friday’s announcement served as the right time to announce our overall triathlete of the year. It’s always a tough category to call, and 2023 was especially tough.
Should the award go to the athlete who earned the most prize money? If that is the criteria, either Haug or Blummenfelt should top the list.
How about for the most consistent athlete of 2023. And, no, that doesn’t necessarily mean the athlete who made the most money. With the three PTO races on the calendar offering such monstrous prize purses, not to mention the large prize purses for the Ironman World Championships, long-distance racing features high on the prize money front. Does that mean athletes who focus on short-course racing shouldn’t feature in the mix for the triathlete of the year awards? Athletes like Beth Potter, who took the world championship and the prestigious Paris Test Event. Or Alex Yee, who also won in Paris and dominated much of the WTCS series. How about Leo Bergere, who was remarkably consistent and took the Super League Title. Then there’s Hayden Wilde, who won a variety of WTCS, Super League and 70.3 events through the season. And possibly topping the list would be Taylor Knibb, who qualified for the Olympics, defended her 70.3 world title and took fourth in Kona at her Ironman debut.
Should the award be bestowed upon an athlete who pulled out a performance that set them apart from the rest of the world. Daniela Ryf’s world-record day in Roth certainly could fit at the top of that category. Then there’s Sam Laidlow’s huge day in Nice or Lucy Charles-Barclay’s incredible performance in Kona could also be logical choices, too. You could add Dorian Coninx to that list, too – the Frenchman’s huge sprint win at the World Triathlon Grand Final catapulted him to the world title. We could certainly add Jan Frodeno to that mix thanks to his huge win at the PTO US Open.
Triathlete of the Year
In the end we’re going to go with a hybrid of all of those criteria and pick an athlete who had a couple of breakout performances, raced with remarkable consistency and finished fourth on the prize money list for the year, despite splitting her race season between Olympic qualification and long-distance racing.
The American star was incredible on the long-distance front, winning three of the four races she took part in (Ironman 70.3 Boulder, PTO US Open and Ironman 70.3 World Championship – where she successfully defended her title). In October she defied all odds with an incredible fourth-place long-distance debut, racing near the front for much of the day in Kona and even showing her class by pointing out to race officials that she should be given a penalty for losing a water bottle on the course.
On the short-course front Knibb returned to racing after undergoing foot surgery over the winter with a podium finish at WTCS Yokohama, finished sixth in Montreal and fifth (enough to nail her Olympic spot) at the Paris Test Event.
Add to all that Knibb’s outgoing personality that has made her one of the sport’s most popular pros. It all added up to a spectacular 2023, with lots of hope for another great year in 2024.