‘Young Guns’ feature in fourth PTO 2020 Championship wildcards

There’s a different look today, to the fourth (or five) rounds of PTO 2020 Championship wildcards announced by the Professional Triathletes Organisation.

While the first 12 names announced featured a significant contribution from top tier of World Triathlon / short-course athletes, the fourth round picks are most certainly on ‘home turf’, reflecting both young talent and in-form performers from the world of middle and long course racing.

As the highest ranked male athlete not automatically qualified already, I think everyone remotely close to the sport will be pleased to see that the name Sam Long is on today’s list. Winner of back-to-back middle distance races on consecutive weekend’s recently (the PTO-supported Bear Lake Brawl, plus IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel), he was certainly on my “he must get a start” list.

He fully deserves that on results alone, but then throw in a U.S. athlete on home soil, his rapid progress over the last 18 months – and his willingness to be outspoken (but back that up on the course), and this selection, to me at least, was an absolute no-brainer. I’m glad to see that the PTO agree – and Challenge Daytona will offer him a perfect opportunity to put his case forward for a place on the Team USA squad for the inaugural Collins Cup in 2021.

Long’s response to selection is interesting too, perhaps reflecting the progress that the PTO have made since its launch in engaging with the professional athletes? Plenty of roads to cross and athletes to please over the coming months no doubt, but progress from zero to now, after several years of working on the structure, has been significant.

“The PTO 2020 Championship is going to be epic, and I am thrilled to have been selected to be a part of it. It is fantastic professionals have all come together to form the PTO. This will be the greatest race EVER, and the best thing about it is that this is OUR race and the PTO is OUR organization. I am ready to give triathlon fans the race they have all been waiting for.”  

Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev is even younger than Sam Long, but his dominant win at the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia, highlights his future potential, particularly on two wheels. Will Long vs. Ditlev develop over the next decade to the Nadal and Federer comparison from the PTO? Time will tell on that front, but there are certainly a new wave of athlete who would like to dethrone the current stars of the sport.

The ‘journey’ of Renee Kiley is a remarkable one – check out her website – but when you consider her recent third place at an exceptionally close IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, there can be no claims that her selection is based on backstory alone.

Like Long, Danielle Dingman was a winner at the PTO-supported Bear Lake Brawl Triathlon, where she was able to get the better of Skye Moench.

Previous Wildcard Announcements: One | Two | Three


The Professional Triathletes Organisation today announced that Sam Long, Danielle Dingman, Magnus Ditlev and Renee Kiley have been selected as wildcards for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®.

In Sam Long and Magus Ditlev we see the young guns of the sport, rightfully stepping up to a championship calibre competition. Both in their early 20’s, their recent performances have announced the arrival of what may be the new guard for the PTO and professional triathlon and the pair could well be battling it out for the next decade. In their first clash at the PTO 2020 Championship, we may witness a transcendental moment in sport that has not happened since Nadal and Federer first locked horns over 15 years ago and began a rivalry that brought tennis to new heights and still continues to this day.

Danielle Dingman and Renee Kiley represent the unique time-honoured tradition of age-groupers progressing to the professional ranks. Both were on their way to breakout seasons and poised to move up the PTO World Rankings for 2020 when COVID-19 struck, eliminating all opportunities to advance up the rankings into automatic qualifying spots. Kiley’s performance at Cairns was at the level of an automatic qualifier, while Dingman’s victory at the PTO Supported Bear Lake triathlon, besting the PTO World No. 10, clearly indicated she was in good enough form to be awarded a wildcard spot.     

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented, “In our fourth-round wildcard selections, our focus was on Category 2 of our published criteria. This covers newer professionals who, because of the COVID impact on racing and the freezing of the PTO World Rankings, did not have the opportunity to establish a high enough ranking to be an automictic qualifier, but whose recent form showed them capable of being competitive with the automatic qualifiers. These are difficult decisions, but we are very pleased with our choices and in Long, Ditlev, Dingman and Kiley we believe we have identified PTO Professionals worthy of a wildcard selection.”

Sam Long, the rising young American star, commented, “The PTO 2020 Championship is going to be epic, and I am thrilled to have been selected to be a part of it. It is fantastic professionals have all come together to form the PTO. This will be the greatest race EVER, and the best thing about it is that this is OUR race and the PTO is OUR organization. I am ready to give triathlon fans the race they have all been waiting for.”  

On hearing of her wildcard selection, Australian Renee Kiley stated, “Very excited to receive the news I’ve been selected as a Wildcard entry to the biggest and most exciting racing opportunity of the year. I have put in some very hard work on the training track throughout 2020 and have stayed extremely focused and motivated week after week. I can’t wait to test myself again against some of the biggest names in triathlon. I am very proud to be a PTO professional. Their support has been critical to the survival of many professionals in this very challenging year. And, it cannot be underestimated how important their involvement is for both professionals and the wider triathlon community in ensuring a healthy and prosperous future of our sport”

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💬 This is just a reminder that it’s never too late to change your life. My message is not about professional sport. It is about finding health and happiness and not “settling” in life because you think it’s too hard or too late to make a significant change. All it takes is one small step and look how it can snowball and completely change the course of your life…. I did my first sprint triathlon at age 31, just because I thought it would be a good challenge to work towards. I never set out to lose weight, but I lost 44kg and quit smoking in the process. Today, I compete as a Professional, training and racing is my full time job after I made the very big decision to step away from the businesses co founded and built for 12 years 👩🏼‍💻 If someone had of asked me 5 years ago if I thought I could have a career as a professional athlete I would have laughed at them. I would have said I’m not good enough, I don’t have the athletic history required to be competitive, it’s too late, I’m too old, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. For you, or someone you know, maybe it is a new career, having a child, losing weight, getting out of a bad relationship or moving overseas. Sometimes in life I think we look way too far ahead, and get completely overwhelmed by how much “work” needs to be done to reach a long term goal or to chase a dream 🤯 So overwhelmed, that we end up not taking any action at all. And so we continue just to “exist” in life… Find what sets your soul on fire. Something that you can’t stop thinking about. Something that excites you and pushes you to be better. Something that brings out all of the emotions in you. Commit to change no matter how difficult and impossible it may seem at first. Stay resilient through the hard times. Keep getting up and taking steps towards your goal every day. Dare to dream. Love yourself enough to be hard on yourself when you need to be. And lastly, get rid of all the doubters, haters, negative people and influences in your life. I promise you it’s not too late to change if you WANT or NEED something bad enough. You just have to take the first step by making the decision that you’re not going to stay where you are any longer ⚡️

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Mangus Ditlev, the young Danish athlete, commented, “It is an honour to have been selected as a wildcard for the PTO 2020 Championship. As a young professional, to be part of an event that will have the greatest field in the history of our sport is mind blowing.  I am very grateful to the PTO for all the work they have been doing to support triathlon and make the sport better for the next generation of professionals.” 

American Danielle Dingman, added, “I am excited about participating in the PTO 2020 Championship and thankful for being selected as a wildcard. Ever since I turned pro a few years ago, the professional community had been welcoming and supportive and that comradery is what is great about our sport. I was very fortunate that I had the opportunity to race some PTO supported some races and was able to display my current form. There are many qualified and talented athletes, so to be considered and selected is a huge privilege.”

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Bear Lake Brawl. Part 2 of 2. . The race was a TT start. We were sent off one by one into a giant washing machine to swim a course that was changed last minute to allow athletes to swim in shallow water if they needed to take a break from the battering. Which 🙋🏼‍♀️, yep, I did. Adjusting to altitude, the cold water, and the mouthfuls of weird tasting water caused me to do what I needed to to get to the bike. . The bike started off with a mega tail wind. I think I went through the 40k in 49/50 min, despite slowing for cows crossing the road. Miles 25-40 were a battering of rain and crosswinds. Despite the conditions I biked a PR bike split (according to my garmin, not race time) of 2:07. I managed to safely get to the finish with frozen feet and ran across dirt and gravel (ouch) to get to T2. . Exiting T2, I was sitting in second about 30 seconds behind the leader. I quickly moved into first and ran great the first 5 miles. But then…the hours of shivering, the lack of nutrition and hydration, and the altitude caught up with me. The last few miles were a struggle, but I hung on and am thankful to walk (barely) away with the win at the first pro race on US soil since COVID foiled all other plans. . To wrap this up and to speak from a place of honesty, there is something I wrote in my journal the night before the race. I’ll share it in hopes of inspiring you to bravely chase your goals. It says: “There are some who underestimate you. There are some who just don’t know you. Tomorrow, show those who underestimate you what a mistake they’ve made and those who don’t know you, to never forget.” . Be brave, friends. . 📷: @higgybabyphotography . #bearlakebrawl #PTO #triathlete #triathlon #swimbikerun #triathlonlife #triathlonmotivation #swimbikerunworld #alphafly #runner

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The PTO 2020 Championship CHALLENGEDAYTONA® will be the highlight of a difficult year and will see the world’s top triathletes competing for a $1,000,000 prize purse. With the top 40 PTO World Ranked athletes and the PTO wildcard selections, the field for the PTO 2020 Championship will be the strongest ever assembled.

The next set of four wildcard selections for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® will be announced at 15:00 BST on 22nd October.

There are still places available for the age group events at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® and those interested can register here.


For more news on the Professional Triathletes Organisation, Rankings, Collins Cup and more, check out our dedicated section on the site HERE.

Professional Triathletes Organisation