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Lionel Sanders says he’s done for the season, starts his own Discord community, hints at new coach

Canadian triathlon star offers lots of insights in his post-Chattanooga recap video

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Lionel Sanders’ latest video is jam-packed with lots of information that is sure to be of interest to his fans: he says he’s done racing this year (other than a possible “rust-buster” in December), he’s got a new “team” around him that includes a new coach and he’ll be starting his own community platform on Discord to avoid the “trolls” that have turned him off other social media platforms. Sanders said that he no longer wants to deal with the “quite frankly, jerks who attack you personally and say mean things because they are trolls – I am going to get rid of that.”

No more Ironman races

After a busy year that saw him win a close sprint with Sam Long to take the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, have to walk to the finish line at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, compete against Jan Frodeno at the Tri Battle Royale, take second to Cameron Wurf at Ironman Copenhagen, compete at the Collins Cup a week later and then take second to Joe Skipper at Ironman Chattanooga, Sanders says he won’t be competing at Ironman Sacramento as he’d earlier announced.

“I am not competitve right now – there’s been two races in a row where I’m not in the thick of it,” he said. Instead he plans to take a bit of a break, then start to focus on the Ironman World Championship in St. George next May. “I love that course, I love that place, I race well there, so I’m just going to go away and get better technically, aerodynamically and power-wise and continue to hone my run and continue to get better at swimming.”

Sanders on the bike at the Tri-Battle Royale. Photo: Tri-Battle Royale

“Learn to ride the bike a bit better.”

“I think I am at the point where I am at the (power) level of all of my competitors, but the speed is not,” he said. “I think that is fortunate – it would really suck if the power was not world class, because that’s a little more difficult to improve. Not to say that I’m content with 300 watts for an Ironman – I’d like 320.”

New coach?

Sanders said that he is no longer creating his own training programs and that he has a “team” around him who are making training decisions for him. There wasn’t a name bandied about on the coaching front, but he did make it clear he is following some specific direction.

“I don’t write the training,” he said. “I’m not in charge of most things. I’m just an athlete. It has taken me 10 years to get to this point where I trust other people to help, to provide their expertise, but I am just going to listen … it’s working, I believe in the process … It’s time to employ people who are the experts in the various fields who will allow me more time and energy to execute their expert thinking. So that’s what I intend to do and I intend to get to the St. George World Champs competitive with the best guys in the world.”

New deal with Discord

Originally designed as a communications platform for gamers, Discord has become much more of a social media platform of late, with over 350 million registered users and 150 million monthly active users. As would make sense with the game-oriented background, it is a popular platform for athletes who use Zwift, which is one of Sanders’ sponsors. Sanders has a huge following on Zwift (he and fellow Tri-Battle Royale competitor Jan Frodeno have the most fans on the platform), so he’s likely all-too-familiar with the Discord platform. Their logo appeared on his race kit last weekend.

“Discord came about because I like engaging with people and the problem is that a lot of the outlets out there are quite toxic and its bad for me, mentally,” Sanders said. “I like Discord because it is much more of a controlled environment where we can sort of moderate things and not have negativity. I’m all for criticism, constructive criticism – no problem. Negativity and trolling and just downright mean people has turned me off of various social media outlets and so I am excited to partner with Discord and take back my social media and have control over how I interact with the world and how the world interacts with me.”