Tim O’Donnell to return to racing after health scare

Perhaps the greatest day in the long and distinguished career of Tim O’Donnell came on the biggest stage of all in October 2019.

While Jan Frodeno was a mile or so up the road, further cementing his GOAT credentials and breaking the Kona course record on the way to a third IRONMAN World Championship title, O’Donnell himself was having a race to remember.

Crossing the finish line on Ali’i Drive in second place, ‘T.O.’ became only the fourth man to finish under eight hours on the Big Island, joining Frodeno, Patrick Lange and Bart Aernouts in that exclusive club.

Having just turned 39 at the time, he was among the fittest men on the planet.

Health scare

And that is what made news that O’Donnell had suffered a heart attack – while racing at Challenge Miami 2021 no less – so shocking. It was an incredibly scary time for Tim and his family, as shown on their Tim and Rinny YouTube channel last year.

YouTube video

Diagnosed with the ‘Widow Maker’, 80% of the left anterior descending artery in his heart was blocked – quite simply, he was lucky to be alive. “I dodged a bullet and now we are moving forward” he said in that August 2021 video – and months later, O’Donnell has confirmed his return to racing in 2022.

Racing return starts in Florida

Via his Instagram page this week, Tim confirmed that his return to racing will be at the Couples Championship on 6th March in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Rinny and I will be pairing up, we’ll be racing all the young guns from the ITU… not going to lie, we are probably like twice their age, so it should be interesting!

“I will check back in soon with the rest of my schedule for 2022. It’s not quite firmed up yet, but i’m really excited to get back out there on the race course, and see everyone out there.”

Best wishes to Tim on his return from a very challenging and emotional 2021.

John Levison
Article by
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in the sport for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages. While his passion is triathlon, you'll also find him watching Boxing, Darts or at the theatre enjoying a good musical...