It’s been a question on so many lips over the last six months – why is Gustav Iden prioritising next year’s Paris Olympics over defending his IRONMAN World Championship crown?
And the answer has come in engaging and emphatic style in the first of Super League Triathlon’s in-depth ‘Face-To-Face’ interviews.
‘Paris will be my race’
It’s been a slow start to the campaign for the man who is a two-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion as well as the current IMWC, with a 52nd place in the opening WTCS of the season in Abu Dhabi, then 14th at Europe Triathlon Cup Quarteira and fifth in the Arena Games finale in London.
But just as the progression of those placings suggest, things appear to be moving in the right direction.
And he’s the first to acknowledge: “Right now in my performance, I’m not that confident. Where I’m at now is not where I want to be in Paris.
“But my self belief that I will do well in Paris, that’s high. It’s hard to explain but I have this inner feeling that Paris will be my race.
“Right now I feel like I’m a bit behind the curve, I’m behind the qualifying schedule, I’m behind in my performance but I do have this strong belief about Paris.”
‘Most people online are so stupid’
And looking back to the last [delayed] Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, that’s clearly not a position he wants to repeat.
He said: “Going into Tokyo, Kristian [Blummenfelt] and Casper [Stornes] were beating me on basically every session – the swim, the bike and the run. Especially Kristian, he was so good going into Tokyo, it was hard for me to believe I could beat him. I knew it might be one out of a thousand scenarios that I won that race.”
So why does he think things can change so dramatically next year?
A clue comes when asked whether he could come into the mix when talk turns to triathlon’s GOAT [Greatest Of All Time], it’s a simple but clear response: “I’m out of the discussion until I can really prove myself at short course, but that’s absolutely not why I’m doing short course.
“I want to see if I can be as good in short distance as I think I can. I feel like I have something that I haven’t shown yet and I really want to show it for myself.
“My long-term goal is winning in Paris
“And I’m not the sort of guy who wants to prove the haters wrong but I do of course read the forums and the comments that say you should just stick to long course. But that’s not what I want to do. I want to prove to myself what I can do, so it’s more like an ego thing. I realise that most people don’t understand anything. Most people online, they are so stupid.”
And possibly the line of the whole interview – and one that should highlight how fine the margins are at Olympic distance compared to longer course – is: “If I wanted the easy way out I could just keep on doing IRONMANs and win every single World Championship for the next 15 years.
He did add to that: “Could be a bit exaggerated!”