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Lionel Sanders says he’s not “ready” to be competitive in Ibiza … will skip Ironman World Championship this year

"If I don't get my swimming a notch better, I'd say my career is over."

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

In his latest video (see below), Lionel Sanders says he won’t be competing at the PTO European Open in May because he doesn’t feel he’ll be competitive at the event, which promises to feature the much anticipated return to racing for Olympic and Kona champion Jan Frodeno, along with the even more anticipated race between the German and Norwegians Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden.

Sanders says that his swimming remains an issue, but he’s also recovering from being sick, which put a huge curb in his training over the last three weeks.

“It feels like I’m coming back from an off season,” Sanders said of his return to training. “The season is starting six weeks later.”

Rather than take on the likes of Frodeno, Blummenfelt and Iden in Ibiza, Sanders will set his sights on a race that he’s enjoyed lots of success at – Ironman 70.3 St. George. The Canadian has won the race in Utah three times (2016, 2018 and 2021), and finished second to Alistair Brownlee in his long-distance debut in 2017.

“I’m hoping to be on the start line in St. George,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to go to Ibiza because I don’t feel ready. I need to get my swim to a higher level. I am interested in racing when I’m competitive. I don’t feel like I’m competitive yet.”

“I need to spend this year as a development year,” the Canadian star continued. “If I don’t get my swimming a notch better, I’d say my career is over.”

Sanders does see a positive side to having paused his training and racing for a while – he’ll be fresher at the end of the season.

As you can see from the screenshot above, Sanders plans to head to Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, another race he’s enjoyed success at in years past, having won there every time he’s toed the line: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022.

The “tentative” race schedule posted by video producer Talbot Cox also includes the PTO US Open and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Finland in August. One would imagine that Sanders might look to compete at a full-distance event later in the season – he’s enjoyed success in Arizona in years past.