Lionel Sanders raw and uncovered – “triathlon saved my life”

The image is blurred but the emotion is raw - Lionel Sanders is in the back room of a house, cycling on a stationary bike - and he appears to be crying.

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The image is blurred but the emotion is raw – Lionel Sanders is in the back room of a house, cycling on a stationary bike, and he appears to be crying.

The 33-year-old Canadian’s mantra has long been ‘No Limits’, and this moment above any other emphasises it during the powerful ‘Beyond Human’ documentary, released by the Professional Triathletes Organisation ahead of the inaugural Collins Cup.

Sanders, whose struggles with addiction earlier in life have been well documented, has been open about the part triathlon played in his recovery. His way of repaying that debt? ‘No Limits’ of course.

Lionel Sanders on life and belonging

He revealed: “One of the things we all need is to feel a sense of purpose and belonging. And triathlon gives me all these things. It’s a vehicle to learn about myself and to learn about the world around me and to learn how to interact.

“My whole brain, wiring, everything, has changed through triathlon – triathlon saved my life.”

‘Beyond Human’ is available to watch now.

Sanders is famed for his work ethic and mentality which drives him to insane levels as he prepares for events – see that video clip, and those apparent tears.

As for what motivates him now, he wants to be an ambassador for the sport, but he also wants to win. The great ones always want both, right?

“My perspective now is now to inspire other people and show them that it’s a worthy pursuit and it’s gonna make you a better person,” he said.

“That is much better than a gold medal. I still want that f***ing gold medal though, I’m not gonna lie.”


The man who will never quit

Few people know Sanders as well as his wife Erin, and she more than anybody understands the dangers that come with that insanely competitive mentality.

“I worry that he’s gonna push himself too hard,” she said.

“You can tell on his face probably where he’s at mentally and a few times now it’s not in a good place. But he will never quit.”

Sanders of course is pushing himself right now to achieve one huge goal – beat Jan Frodeno. They will clash in a much-publicised head-to-head later this month, and if Sanders has his way then again in the Collins Cup in August.

The mission comes with the promise that ‘No Limits’ will be taken to new levels should the pair eventually meet in Šamorín.

“When you have darker experiences in the past, you’re always looking at everything that’s going on through all those prior experiences.

“Pain is inherent in life. At some point stuff is gonna happen to you, it’s gonna suck, you’re gonna have to figure out how to deal with it though. You can at least have a little bit of experience with coping.

“I will seek out Jan, and I will go away on a stretcher if I have to.”

August 28, circle it on the calendar and bring it on…

You can watch the whole of ‘Beyond Human’ from the Professional Triathletes Organisation by clicking here.

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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