World championships, podium sweeps, million-dollar bonuses, and triumphs over adversity — the athletes of Bahrain Endurance 13 have made their mark with these achievements the past three years. For 2018, the Bahrain Endurance 13 team is setting the bar even higher with its line-up of all-star athletes and achievers racing for key long-distance triathlon titles and promoting a culture of health and wellness and endurance sporting excellence across the Gulf region and beyond.
Eight of the founding athlete line-up will once again return: five-time ITU world champion and two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Javier Gomez, multiple Ironman world champions Daniela Ryf and Jan Frodeno, two-time ITU long course world champion Jodie Swallow-Cunnama, five-time world champion Terenzo Bozzone, two-time Ironman African champion Ben Hoffman, Ironman South American champion Brent McMahon, and Ironman champion David Plese.
Dual Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee and Ironman 70.3 world champion Holly Lawrence first signed onto the team last year, and both will be returning in 2018.
The team is also welcoming two new athletes to the roster: Ironman 70.3 World Championship runner-up Ben Kanute from the USA, and Australian Olympian Ashleigh Gentle. The two will race over Olympic, mixed team relay, and 70.3 formats, broadening Bahrain Endurance’s representation across all triathlon formats.
The thirteenth spot this year will be filled by Team Captain and founder His Highness Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has qualified for the Ironman World Championship and is one step closer to fulfilling a longtime dream. HH Shaikh Nasser personally handpicked and shaped this team that has not only become the most successful in triathlon history, but also has changed the landscape of sporting excellence and healthy lifestyle in Bahrain and the Gulf region for the better.
The team this year continues its laser focus on excellence. Frodeno is not one to rest on his laurels, and there have been many since 2015: apart from winning Kona twice and being the first man to defend a Kona title in this decade, Frodeno is also one of only two men who have held both Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world titles in the same year, and is the world record holder for fastest ironman ever. Despite a Kona race plagued by back issues last year, his champion mindset kept him going towards the finish line — and he will be hungry to take back the top spot this year.
Daniela Ryf has gone from strength to strength in her time on the team. She will attempt her fourth straight win in Kona this year, the first opportunity for an athlete to do so since Paula Newby-Fraser’s feat in 1994. Ryf says, “The team has been a great support to me and my teammates, and I think the results reflect that.”
Gomez debuted the first Bahrain Endurance suit at Ironman 70.3 Dubai in 2015. This year as he takes the long-awaited turn toward racing Ironman, he hopes to rock the “racing red” in Kona. He says, “I was very lucky to be the first athlete signed by the team back in 2015. Since then we’ve won 11 world titles and I’ve had the chance to share some amazing moments in training and racing with some of the best athletes in the world.”
Swallow-Cunnama took most of 2017 off since discovering her pregnancy in the weeks leading up to the Ironman African Championship. Since giving birth to son Jack, she has been enjoying the road to her eventual comeback this year even as she is determined not to rush the process.
She says, “My prime goal will be the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September and I must try and secure qualification to that over the summer. The Championships are in South Africa, in Nelson Mandela Bay so their lure is heightened further — firstly, because they will be a ‘home’ race and secondly, because the sea swim and torrid, windy conditions suit my racing style very much.”
Bozzone had a breakthrough 2017 getting to a best-ever sixth-place finish at the Ironman World Championships, and is working towards improving on this for 2018. He says, “I’ve been on the team since Day One and it’s been pretty inspiring having some of the best athletes in the world as teammates. It makes me want to race to my full potential — and give them a little nudge.
“I’m really excited to welcome all the new members to the team, especially His Highness Shaikh Nasser who developed this team. He’s qualified for Kona so he’ll be racing alongside us on the lava fields.”
Expect to see the Bahrain Endurance racing red out front at the Ironman 70.3 Dubai, the team’s first race this year. Brownlee and Lawrence are both going for the Triple Crown series this year, and a win in Dubai will be the first step towards that. HH Shaikh Nasser and Plese will also toe the line to represent Bahrain.
2018 BAHRAIN ENDURANCE 13 TEAM
Javier Gomez (ESP) Daniela Ryf (SUI)
Jan Frodeno (GER) Jodie Cunnama (GBR)
Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) Holly Lawrence (GBR)
Ben Hoffman (USA) Ashleigh Gentle (AUS)
Brent McMahon (CAN) Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
Ben Kanute (USA) David Plese (SLO)
HH Shaikh Nasser (BAH)