A multiple champion as part of France’s impeccable relay teams, the past couple of years have seen Léo Bergere make an indelible impression in his own right.
He’s now very much among the cream of the sport’s current crop – here’s how he got there.
Who is Léo Bergere?
The jungle isn’t the obvious proving ground for future triathlon champions. But this is where French dynamo Léo Bergere spent several of his formative years, having moved as a young child to the wilds of New Caledonia in the South Pacific after his mother was appointed to a teaching job there.
He explains how the experience taught him “how to be independent, how to be strong”, attributes that have shaped him into being one of the most focused, headstrong competitors in triathlon today.
Having taken the sport up in his teens after the family had moved back to France, something of an avalanche of major championship titles came his way in his early years of competition: European and world golds at junior, U23 and elite level as part of France’s highly decorated relay teams.
The past couple of seasons have seen Bergere truly make his mark in his own right. A strong all-rounder with no discernible weaker discipline, he is consistently in the hunt whenever a race reaches its pointy end.
No stranger to a sprint finish, Bergere is also well acquainted with the podiums of the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) – although, frustratingly for him, he has yet to take an individual victory.
That said, heading towards the climax of the 2022 season, he is currently in second place overall in the series. If he can maintain his excellent consistency into the final two races, the boy from the jungle might be enjoying the greatest success of his career so far.
How old is Léo Bergere?
Léo Bergere was born on 28 June 1996, making him 26 years of age.
Léo Bergere’s career highlights
June 2013: Champion of Europe at sweet 16
The day before his 17th birthday, Bergere becomes a European champion, as part of the gold medal-winning youth men’s relay team at this year’s champs in Holten, the Netherlands.
May 2014: Individual European Cup triumph
In central France, Bergere takes his first individual win, breaking the tape in the junior European Cup race in Vierzon having held off the challenge of another youngster destined for great things – one Gustav Iden – by two seconds.
July 2015: A second Euro title
As part of France’s junior mixed relay squad, Bergere is again crowned a European champion in Geneva, having come fifth in the junior men’s race the day before.
September 2015: Podium finish as a WTCS junior
The teenager heads across the Atlantic where, at the World Triathlon Championship Series Grand Final in Chicago, he takes junior bronze and climbs onto a WTCS podium for the first time.
July 2017: An elite eighth in Hamburg
After spending the 2016 season (his first full campaign in the elite ranks) largely racing in European Cup and World Cup competitions, Bergere has now become a regular on the WTCS circuit. His first top-10 finish comes this month with an eighth place in Hamburg.
March 2018: A maiden top-five WTCS finish
In the dry heat of Abu Dhabi, Bergere finishes fourth, ahead of seasoned, been-around-the-block competitors like Jonny Brownlee and Richard Murray.
September 2018: On top of the world
At the Grand Final on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Bergere is part of the victorious French U23/junior mixed relay squad who conquer the world. Having come fourth in the U23 men’s race two days earlier, he leads the quartet home in a dramatic photo-finish sprint.
July 2019: World title number two
Bergere becomes a world champ twice over in Hamburg. He’s now part of the French elite mixed relay team who swat all-comers aside in the northern German port city.
September 2020: A first WTCS podium
Back on familiar territory in Hamburg, Bergere takes third place, showing a clean pair of heels to the likes of Alex Yee, Alistair Brownlee, Kristian Blummenfelt and Iden. The following day comes a third world title, again courtesy of the exploits of the French mixed relay quartet.
July 2021: Another top-three finish on the WTCS circuit
After what has to be regarded as a disappointing Olympics in Tokyo, where he finished 21st, Bergere claims bronze in the super-sprint race in Montreal in a French clean sweep behind Dorian Coninx and Vincent Luis.
A week later, further east, he repeats the trick in Edmonton – although he is a whisker away from winning as he loses out in a three-way sprint with the Norwegian Blummenfelt and Belgium’s Marten van Riel. The following month, a hat-trick of successive bronzes arrives in Hamburg.
March 2022: An unexpected half-Iron gold
Bergere enters the Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote and, despite being yet to win a WTCS race, he takes victory in the Canaries in his first stab at half-Iron racing.
June 2022: World champion in waiting?
Another super-sprint bronze in Montreal later in the month puts him in a very strong position for an overall medal as the series enters its final races.
August 2022: Individual European glory
After all his relay championship titles, Bergere strikes out to take a crown for himself in Munich. Thanks to a trademark strong run, he is now champion of Europe. A second Euro title is added two days later as France continue their impressive grasp on matters mixed relay.
Léo Bergere in quotes
On his unusual upbringing in the jungles of New Caledonia in the South Pacific: “We lived amongst a tribe and I was cared for by elders within this bigger family. For a child, it was pure magic.”
On his teenage motivation to become one of the world’s best triathletes: “I had to commit entirely if I wanted to reach the top. I decided to leave the comforts of my family and home to spend time in a sport training facility when I was 15.”
On life at the sport’s top table: “Being a triathlete is like nothing else. I’m outside and amongst nature every day when I train. For me, this is a life that I dreamed of living.”
What’s next for Léo Bergere?
Plenty of Olympic-distance ambitions remain for Bergere. The Frenchman has still yet to register that first WTCS race victory and, at the time of writing, still holds hopes of snatching this year’s world title.
And, of course, there’s the small matter of a home Olympics in 2024. Still, when he does move on up to half-Iron distance, the promise is there: he won the only Ironman 70.3 race he’s entered.
Top image credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images