The PTO’s latest video sets out to find out what makes reigning Olympic and IRONMAN World champion Kristian Blummenfelt tick – and makes a terrific job of it.
The last 12 months have seen the Norwegian rewrite the record books, not only triumphing in Tokyo and St George but adding the World Triathlon Championship title in Edmonton as well as notching the fastest-ever IRONMAN time in Cozumel, not to mention that 6:44:25 at Sub7.
No wonder the title starts ‘The Perfect Year?’, but it’s the second part – ‘Hurts More to Lose’ which really tells the story.
“Losing races is maybe more painful than the joy of winning the race itself,” admits Big Blu, who adds that had he not won gold in Tokyo, the next three months would have been hugely challenging.
But while incredibly driven, the 28-year-old also underlines the enjoyment that triathlon – both the training and races – brings him.
“I feel this sport is giving me so much that it’s kind of my hobby. I’m doing my hobby and am also getting paid for it so I would rather look at it as a privilege.”
‘He doesn’t enjoy pain’
The dynamic with training partner Gustav Iden is fascinating and the pair will go head to head this month in the PTO Canadian Open, after illness for the latter scuppered that potential St George showdown.
On Iden, Kristian reckons: “His weakness is that he doesn’t enjoy pain. That’s what we say within the team – like why he fits for long distance because he wants to have it comfortable.”
But beneath the smiles it’s evident there couldn’t be more respect.
“He’s probably my biggest rival – or enemy – going into the race.
“The fitter I am and kind of helping him get fitter, the more tricky it’ll be winning on race day. But the ultimate success for both of us is to take 1-2.
“It’s also more enjoyable travelling around the world with your best friend rather than just winning on your own.”
And the race-day experience is the clear highlight: “The race for me is kind of the big party of the whole weekend.
“It’s all about doing the recovery as good as possible because I want to have another party, in another city, in another part of the world a few weeks later.”
There are plenty of other insights too. When asked about Jan Frodeno, the answer is again twofold. While clearly a huge rival, Blummenfelt hopes to win as many titles as he has, though “hopefully in a shorter time frame” and while still keeping triathlon as a hobby.
The Norwegians have raised the bar in terms of their scientific approach and Blummenfelt doesn’t expect others to catch up just yet.
“A few years ago, people were kind of laughing at how much time we were spending in the lab, but now people are trying to kind of copy what we have been doing.
“Even though we see that they are trying to copy, we also know that they are like seven years behind us. We have done this now for six, seven, eight years so it would make no sense if they can suddenly … just understand everything.”
But he does admit to a weakness: “My biggest weakness is my top speed – that’s why I’m always attacking with like 1k, 1.5k to go because I know that if it comes down to the last 100 metres, I don’t have much to turn up with.”
We’re not entirely sure that Marten Van Riel and Leo Bergere, the men Big Blu outsprinted on the blue carpet to take WTCS Finals glory in Edmonton, would agree though!
All eyes on Edmonton
And it’s Edmonton which will host the upcoming Canadian Open showdown between Blummenfelt, Iden and the likes of home favourite Lionel Sanders and newly-crowned Challenge Roth champion Magnus Ditlev.
And more than that, it will also see age-groupers sharing the stage with their heroes, something that Blummenfelt says makes the sport very special.
“I think what’s making triathlon so great is that it’s not just kind of a place for the professional.
“The age group and professionals mix, racing the same course. It really brings a kind of unique atmosphere to the race and the venue and the whole race week.
“The community is really good in triathlon, everyone is doing it because they love the sport.”