In just his second season of professional long course triathlon, Germany’s Rico Bogen shocked the triathlon community with a jaw dropping performance to become the 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion at just 22 years of age.
Ranked PTO World #69 and having only ever won a middle distance race once before, at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau in May, even Bogen himself seemed surprised at what he had managed to achieve on a challenging course in Lahti, Finland.
Leading a German sweep of the podium alongside compatriots Frederic Funk and Jan Stratmann, Bogen may well have helped usher in a new generation of middle distance stars in Europe, with nine of the Top 10 men in Lahti from the home continent.
“It is just unbelievable”
Having previously finished 14th at his only other major championships at the World Long Distance Champs in Ibiza, Bogen most certainly came into the race this weekend under the radar, with that anonymity now unlikely to last much longer after what the German described as an “unbelievable” race.
“Unbelievable. I just can’t imagine, after racing against some of the biggest names such as [Kristian] Blummenfelt, that I have done this, I am just 22 years old and I think I am one of the youngest ever World Champions and it is just unbelievable.”
Reflecting on the race, throughout which he was almost always at the front, Bogen heralded the work of the front bike pack at helping the group get away from the rest of the field, which allowed him to be in a position to utilise his fantastic run.
“Back at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau, my run was also very good, so I was hoping for that again today. The swim was very fast today and then Mathis [Margirier] and Freddy Funk did a really good job on the bike and it was super hard.
“Luckily, I then had my running legs and it was just incredible to hold it until the end. It was also just amazing to get three Germans on the podium.”
Having never raced outside of Europe and after predominantly sticking to middle distance IRONMAN events, a number of doors will surely now open up for the young German star, with opportunities to race the world’s best likely to come thick and fast in 2024.