Throughout the challenges brought on in a year unlike any other, the Bahrain Endurance 13 athletes displayed the champion mindset and attitude that has powered the team to winning multiple world titles, continuing to promote a culture of health, wellness, and endurance sporting excellence in the Gulf region and beyond.
Lauren Parker kicked off the team’s racing for the year with dual victories at the Paratriathlon Oceania Championships and Devonport Paratriathlon World Cup. Vicky Holland and Ashleigh Gentle followed that up with a gold and bronze respectively at the Mooloolaba World Cup before the global pandemic saw an abrupt halt to racing as the world shut down.
Even at home in isolation, the team adopted positive and proactive attitudes with a focus on what they can do. Daniela Ryf took the extended break from competing as an opportunity to work on her degree in Food Science and Management, for completion by February 2021. Having built fitness for summer races that no longer would be held, Jan Frodeno instead completed an iron distance triathlon at home in Girona, Spain to fundraise for charity, benefiting healthcare institutions locally as well as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
No racing did not mean no training. All the work done in the background exploded into sight as the world began to open up and forge a path to racing safely. Kristian Blummenfelt drew first blood in the summer racing season with a win at the Austrian Sprint National Championships, the first international title race to be held in Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He also made history as part of the first mixed team relay fielded by Norway, helping bring them just one spot shy of the podium at the Mixed Relay World Championships.
Vincent Luis went on a winning spree, defending his world title and going three-for-three in the remaining races on the World Triathlon circuit. Javier Gomez displayed versatility and grit winning and podiuming across middle and short distances, including the inaugural Super League Arena Games which was the first in the world to blend both real-world and virtual racing. Alistair Brownlee went from strength to strength as the season progressed, not only winning the famously brutal Hellvellyn Triathlon but also pushing Luis and Blummenfelt at the Arzachena World Cup.
Holly Lawrence became the vanguard for the Bahrain Endurance racing red in North America with a wire-to-wire win at Ironman 70.3 Cozumel. The team reunited for a strong performance at the Professional Triathletes Organisation Championship at Challenge Daytona, with Lawrence, Brownlee, Luis, alongside Ben Kanute and David Plese lined up to compete in a deep field. Lawrence placed 4th, while Luis finished 8th in his middle distance debut.
“I don’t think you truly appreciate the power of team, camaraderie, and the balance that this creates in a high performance environment until you are confronted the way we were this year,” said Chris McCormack, team CEO of the Bahrain Endurance 13.
“We have seen the success that this culture has brought in a racing environment over the last six years with more world title wins than any other team over the same period, but the way the team took on together the disruption in their sport and in all their planning this year is testament to the robust culture established within the Bahrain Endurance 13. Relying on each other, refocusing and pursuing new goals for the season and again winning the only world title offered in the sport: the way we have navigated this season makes me proud to lead this team.
“When I sat with His Highness Sheikh Nasser more than 6 years ago and we discussed the power of alignment of talent and the goals and obstacles we could conquer, we believed that by launching a team we could change the racing landscape of our sport and this culture would be contagious and positive. This year has shown me more than anything the power of alignment and team in both the high periods and the lows, and further drives home the remarkable value of Bahrain Endurance 13 for the athletes and within sport.”
In a year that was a challenge for the world, where there were some highs for sport, the Bahrain Endurance 13 were at the front of the charge. Armed with the continued support of His Highness Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa through a tough year, we look forward towards 2021 and the pursuit of Olympic, Paralympic, and World Championship titles.