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Jan Frodeno the gladiator says ‘I died doing what I love’ after one ‘Last Dance’ at IMWC Nice

The German great reflects on an emotional day on the Cote d'Azur

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It wasn’t quite the storybook ending that Jan Frodeno fans had so desired in Nice on Sunday, but it was still an epic finale to a glittering career in so many other ways.

While the 42-year-old German did not top the podium one final time at the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship, he yet again displayed the heart and class of a champion as he came home in 24th place.

No quit in Frodeno

Well off the pace after a brutal bike leg through the mountains around the Cote d’Azur, and then hampered by an injury, Frodeno once again refused to quit. Instead, he kissed his family in T2 before setting out on the final marathon of his career, soaking in the adoration of the crowds for one last time.

Another triathlon great – six-time Kona king Mark Allen – had spoken pre-race of how Frodeno had also chosen this ‘currency’ in Kona in 2017 when he completed the marathon at a walk in 35th place after suffering an injury. In Nice on Sunday the same qualities were there again – honouring the race and the sport.

Completing the course in a time of 8:48:42, Frodeno crossed the finish line to huge cheers, one last ovation for one of triathlon’s true all-time greats. He then gave one final post-race address before heading off into what we hope will be a very happy retirement. As ever, it included one terrific quote and analogy.

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‘The lion got me’

Frodeno told the fans: “Thank you to this insanely epic crowd. You guys are wonderful, I owe you everything because you make it worthwhile.

“It’s been such an incredible journey, and yeah, going in with the gladiators, the last time the lion got me. But that’s alright, I died doing what I love so I’m a happy guy.”

Later, writing on Instagram, he added: “Tomorrow, and in the coming months, I will reflect on all and everything that happened on this incredible journey. Congratulations @samlaidlow. A worthy world champ. Thanks to everyone else for the support.”

He was a gladiator to the very end, and maybe the lion did win this time, but nobody really noticed. Frodeno, in his own way, won too.

Happy retirement Jan, and thank you for every one of those golden memories.

Graham Shaw
Written by
Graham Shaw
Graham has been involved with TRI247 & RUN247 since the summer of 2021. Since then he has provided strategic direction for all news and is passionate about the growth of triathlon as a fan sport.
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