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Is Gustav Iden arrogant or just confident (and honest)?

PTO documentary "Winning is a Choice" explores Gustav Iden's success

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

He’s the Ironman world champion. A two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion. He’s never lost a Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) race. And, based on a documentary released today by the PTO, it’s obvious that he’s got no shortage of confidence. While he acknowledges that many of the things he says could be seen as arrogant, for the 26-year-old Norwegian, he’s just being honest.

“I knew six years ago that I was going to be the best,” he says. “I may come across as a bit arrogant in my ambition. Every single life advice you get from everyone is to be yourself. To live a fake lifestyle where I’m fake humble … I think would be extremely tiring, so I think it’s best to be open that you kind of are arrogant and are looking at yourself as the greatest athlete – so far I’ve been backing it up OK.”

That he has. His huge win in Kona last year, coupled with his impressive performances at the PTO events, saw him named the Triathlete of the Year at last weekend’s Global Triathlon Awards.

“If you have the self-belief that you’re going to win, I think it’s a good thing to say that you’re going to win,” he continues. Such statements also help create more excitement for the sport.

“I’m not just here to win, I’m here to entertain as well,” he says.

“I’m different because I’m smarter than the rest”

“I think I have the ability to take all the information and sort it and then make the right decisions at every point of the race, I think that’s something that I do in training as well,” Iden continues. “I think that’s what makes me special – I’m smarter than the normal triathlete.”

Iden says that a huge part of his success comes from his attitude and approach: “Winning is a choice.”

Iden would run a record-setting 2:36:15 marathon at the Ironman World Championship, while countryman Blummenfelt would post a 2:39:21 split to finish third.

Norway’s impressive rise

In the video Iden talks about the Norwegian triathlon program, which has surged to the top of the world ranks over the last decade.

“When I started with Triathlon Norway, we had basically nothing,” he says. “So I was the first athlete…the first generation on a national team. It was nothing before us, really. It was absolutely nothing.”

Iden remembers when the program started in 2010. There were 10 athletes invited to a training camp – four of those ended up at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Some people don’t understand how far ahead we are in terms of our training,” he says. “It’s not a talent thing that made us good. It’s a really, really good culture within the team that made us such an amazing team.”

Related: Gustav Iden wins Ironman World Championship with massive course record

Frodeno at the top … for now

“To be called the greatest of all time you have to prove yourself, never have any weaknesses,” Iden says. “Whatever course it is, whatever condition it is, you are able to win. So far Jan [Frodeno] has been the closest to the Greatest of All Time, but hopefully I can show him it’s not easy to have that title forever.” 

“I think I’m the present of triathlon and also the future. I’m not going anywhere and I want to keep going until I’m old like Jan. I don’t see myself doing anything else.”

You can see the documentary here: