Training > Athlete Profiles

Male triathletes: the 10 greatest ever

Just who is the greatest male triathlete of all time, long-course and short-course? We have discussed, debated and argued, and finally come up with these 10. Do you agree?

10. Simon Whitfield

Proof that nice guys don’t always finish last is Simon Whitfield, one of the most popular performers ever to step onto a triathlon race track. Yet behind the smiles and affability was one of the most dedicated trainers in triathlon, famous for his relentless pursuit of sporting excellence (so much so that the term would become his catchphrase).

The Canadian would become famous for his tactical knowhow and big race ability, with his achievements including 11 ITU World Cup victories, nine Pan American Cup wins, a record four Olympic appearances and becoming triathlon’s first-ever male Commonwealth Games champion. 

But it’s his Olympic Games exploits that make Whitfield a fixture on this list. At Sydney 2000 in triathlon’s debut men’s Olympic Games race, Whitfield came out of the Sydney Harbour waters 30secs behind the favourites, Simon Lessing and the Kiwi Hamish Carter, and would exit T2 in 25th place after a bike collision nearly wiped him out. With Lessing overcooking it on the bike, Whitfield charged out of transition to leave a host of world-beaters in his wake.

With 2km to go, Germany’s Stefan Vuckovic had control of the race, at one point opening a 20m gap between himself and the chasing Canadian.With the Opera House finish line in sight, Whitfield’s sprint reps reaped the rewards and he passed the German to win by 13secs and enter triathlon immortality.

Forever a forward thinker, Whitfield was behind triathlon’s most famous use of a domestique at the 2008 Olympics when his fellow Canadian, Colin Jenkins, acted as his pace man and protector on the bike. The tactic took Whitfield to within 200m of his second Olympic gold before Germany’s Jan Frodeno, in the race of his life, edged the Canadian on the home straight to win by 5secs.

Career highlights

Olympic Games gold medal, 2000

Olympic Games silver medal, 2008

Commonwealth Games champion, 2002

Continue reading our guide to the 10 greatest male triathletes of all time  (2/10)

Some of the copy here comes from Matthew Baird's 'Triathlon: A tribute to the world's greatest triathletes, courses and gear' from Aurum Press and available here


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