Gustav Iden: Background, career highlights, quotes

Gustav Iden is part of a Norwegian contingent taking triathlon by storm. But who is he and what's happened in his career so far?

Gustav Iden crosses the finish line and wins the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2021

He might not yet have hit the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) heights of his contemporary and compatriot Kristian Blummenfelt, but Gustav Iden isn’t playing in the shadows.

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He’s felt his fair share of the white light of adulation. That’s the by-product of twice winning the Ironman 70.3 world title…

Who is Gustav Iden?

Norway waits an age for a world-class triathlete and three come along at once. And were he not of the same generation as Kristian Blummenfelt and Casper Stornes, Gustav Iden would be the sole beneficiary of a country’s adoration. As it is, the love has to be shared three ways.

Like Blummenfelt, Iden is a son of the city of Bergen who held the national title as a junior. He can’t remotely match the record of his compatriot when it comes to WTCS success, but he’s three years younger, so there’s time in reserve to match his (slight) elder.

Indeed, Iden is yet to win a WTCS race, but has made the podium on two occasions, both in the agreeable temperatures of Bermuda.

But it’s at Ironman half-distance where his greatest mark has been made; he’s the current – and two-time – 70.3 world champion, having gone longer at a younger age than most. Furthermore, a victory on his full Ironman debut at the tail end of last year suggests he’ll be a contender for the rescheduled 2021 world championships in May.

Not that he’ll be jettisoning WTCS racing. World domination of all distances – whether by him alone or by the all-conquering Norwegian contingent –­­­ cannot be ruled out.

How old is Gustav Iden?

Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

Gustav Iden was born on 1 May 1996, making him 25 years old.

Gustav Iden’s career highlights

September 2017: A maiden victory in the elite ranks

After being a national junior champion at both duathlon and triathlon, Iden secures his first elite victory at the ITU World Cup race in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. After an average swim, a strong bike and dominant run combine to take the win.

March 2018: First top 10 WTS finish

Iden’s upward trajectory continues as he takes his place in the top 10 of WTS Abu Dhabi, finishing ninth, just ahead of the experienced South African Richard Murray.

April 2018: A 1-2-3 for Norway in Bermuda

Just a month after his Abu Dhabi top 10, Iden tastes the WTS limelight with third place in Bermuda, behind his two compatriots Stornes and Blummenfelt. With Javier Gómez and Mario Mola heading into the closing years of their careers, it feels as though Spain’s dominance of men’s triathlon is being passed over to Norway.

April 2019: A case of history repeating in Bermuda

Iden repeats his third place of 12 months earlier, although this time he’s the highest-placed Norwegian, with Bergen buddy Blummenfelt only managing fifth place. Iden’s growing consistency is clear this season as he also registers fourth-placed finishes in both Tokyo and Lausanne.

September 2019: Middle-distance world glory is achieved

Gustav Iden crosses the finish line to win Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2019
Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images for Ironman

As much as Iden is beginning to punch through on the WTS scene, it’s at 2019’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship that he makes his greatest impact when he comfortably holds off the challenge of Alistair Brownlee on the Nice waterfront to grab a nearby Norwegian flag and claim the world crown for his own.

September 2021: The world title defence is delayed but ultimately successful

To prove that 2019 wasn’t a flash in the pan, Iden retains his world 70.3 title two years later after no event was held in 2020. In somewhat more challenging conditions in St George, Utah, including hailstorms and heavy rain, Iden holds off a strong field.

His job is made easier when arguably his closest rival, Blummenfelt, needs a wheel change and loses touch with the ever-depleting lead group.

November 2021: A highly impressive full-distance Ironman debut

Iden travels to Ironman Florida as an unknown prospect, but he certainly makes his presence and potential felt. Matching Canada’s Lionel Sanders stride for stride in the first 16 miles of the run, Iden then breaks away to take the win, in the process registering a tremendous 2:34:51 for the marathon.

Gustav Iden quotes

On the difference between Ironman 70.3 and Olympic-distance racing: “70.3 is a game of patience and numbers … In ITU, everything depends on staying with the pack. It’s a game of cat and mouse.”

On his first 70.3 world championship: “I was joking on Instagram that I was just going to go out and go do it, but to be here as a world champion… It’s unbelievable and it’s amazing.”

On the perception of triathlon in Norway: “It is gradually becoming a sport of the people. It’s slowly getting traction on TV and the local newspaper in my hometown often writes about it. But football is still very big, which does not make sense, because we are really bad. Like really, really bad.”

What’s next for Gustav Iden?

The rescheduled Ironman World Championship in May is Iden’s immediate concern – a return to Utah where he won his second 70.3 title. Then it will be a period of rest before making a late return to the WTCS circuit around May.

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Top image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman