Lionel Sanders and Holly Lawrence have been honoured with the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s “Julie Moss Award” for their “courageous performances at the Collins Cup.
Julie Moss put triathlon on the map thanks to her performance at the 1982 Ironman World Championship where she collapsed just short of the finish and crawled across the line, only to be passed in the final few metres by Kathleen McCartney.
Here’s how the PTO described the decisions to give Sanders and Lawrence the awards in a press release sent out earlier today:
The many gutsy performances at the Collins Cup made this decision extremely difficult. From Team Internationals’ Kyle Smith racing with one aerobar after crashing, to an unwell Daniela Ryf of Team Europe pushing herself on the run to earn three vital points, from the outstanding performance by American Chelsea Sodaro barely six months after the arrival of her baby Skye, to the mad sprint by Team Internationals’ Jackson Laundry in the final two kilometres to win his match, the day was filled with grit and determination. But the performances of Sanders and Lawrence particularly captivated the fans and showcased the meaning of The Collins Cup.
Canadian Lionel Sanders, the spiritual leader of Team Internationals, arrived at the event having finished second at Ironman Copenhagen only six days before. However, nothing was going to stop him leaving his body and soul on the racecourse for the PTO’s flagship event. Sanders not only competed on just six days rest from a full distance race, but he then rose from the pavement after a bike crash to win his match against Europe’s Sebastian Kienle and USA’s Andrew Starykowicz.
Simon Whitfield, Olympic Gold Medal winner and Team Internationals Captain, commented, “There is literally no way to describe Lionel Sanders. You can exhaust your Thesaurus with words like relentless, indomitable, unyielding, driven, inexorable, and never come close to describing what Lionel Sanders is or does. You can only conclude it is beyond the realm of human comprehension. In everything the man does he lives his mantra to have “No Limits.” It was an honour to be his Captain and experience his passion and spirit.“
For the women, Europe’s Holly Lawrence personifies the values of the Collins Cup. One of the marquee matches against fierce rival Ellie Salthouse from Team Internationals was turning out to be well and truly epic as the women battled side-by-side for every stroke of the swim, colliding numerous times as each refused to yield a centimetre. It was triathlon’s equivalent of Ali v. Fraser fought in the waters of the Danube River. Lawrence led on the bike until disaster struck, and she crashed not far from T-2. Bloodied, she rose immediately to continue the fight, but her damaged bike took almost five minutes to repair as she waited helplessly. She watched both Salthouse and USA’s Skye Moench pass her and saw her chance to win the match evaporate. Bike repaired but spirit unbroken, she rode into transition to a standing ovation. With no chance to win her match, she nonetheless persevered in the run and denied Team USA and Team International bonus points, thus helping Team Europe to victory.
Natascha Badmann, Team Europe Captain, noted, “Holly Lawrence’s performance was an inspiration to our team. We had already lost points in Match No. 1 with the tremendous performance of USA’s Taylor Knibb. If Holly was not able to continue, we would have lost an additional 1-1/2 points. With grit and determination, she battled back to deny both Team USA and Team Internationals 1-1/2 vital points. This did not go unnoticed by the fans and the rest of Team Europe, who were not prepared to see Holly’s effort be in vain.”
Lawrence mentioned in her post-race interview that if it had been a normal championship race, she would not have continued after it took so long to mend her bike, but since she was racing for Team Europe, she was willing to sacrifice her personal goals for those of the team.