Joe Skipper out of IRONMAN World Championship at St George due to COVID

Joe Skipper will not be able to bid for IRONMAN World Championship glory in St George on May 7 after being forced to withdraw from the showdown in Utah by COVID-19.

The British star had hoped to derail the ‘Norwegian Hype Train’ powered by superstars Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, but now that dream is over.

Skipper revealed he was suffering from COVID following his disappointing fourth place at IRONMAN South Africa in early April. He announced soon after that he was 50-50 to make the start line in St George.

On Friday he was forced to admit defeat as he confirmed his withdrawal, just 24 hours after Spanish great Javier Gomez was also forced to pull out because of COVID.

It’s a devastating blow for the 34-year-old Skipper, who had produced terrific performances in 2021 to win IRONMAN UK in Bolton and IRONMAN Chattanooga. Those displays had seen him rise to a current standing of #7 in the PTO World Rankings.

Joe Skipper on withdrawal

Writing in an Instagram post, Joe said: “I’m sorry to say that I’m going to be withdrawing from the Ironman world championships in St George due to COVID.

“It’s such a shame and I’m really disappointed as I had been really looking forward to this race since it was first announced late last year. I felt as though the course and conditions would suit me and play to my strengths.

“However I tested positive two weeks ago with flu-like symptoms for the first 3 days and then feeling very tired and fatigued after the initial symptoms subsided. I have been taking it easy and am now only really getting back into training and I’m still unable to train anywhere near like I would normally do or like I would need to do to be competitive at the world championships.”

While Skipper was desperate to take on the Norwegians in St George, he knew attempting to do so would be a step too far.

“I feel if I was to line up in St George I wouldn’t do myself justice and I wouldn’t be competitive in my current state. I would also run the risk of long-term damage and potentially writing the rest of this year off and who knows what else.”

Joe pulling for fellow Brits

While Skipper is understandably disappointed to miss out, he did sign off with the hope that one of his fellow Brits can bring home the biggest prize in triathlon on May 7.

“I would like to wish everyone else racing the best of luck and I can’t wait to follow the race, hopefully the Brits can ride that hype train to the front of the race! 🚂 😉”

Skipper is just the latest big name to withdraw from the Utah spectacular. Reigning men’s champion Jan Frodeno pulled out last week with a small partial tear of his Achilles, while likely women’s favourite Lucy Charles-Barclay is also out due to a fractured hip. Then this week came the news that Gomez would also miss the big dance.

Jonathan Turner
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Jonathan is Editorial Director for TRI247 and RUN247. He was previously Head of Digital / Comms for pro cycling's Team Sky and now spends as much time as he can running with his local club. Swimming is not yet on the radar.