IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon provides a major step towards his goal of becoming the world’s first professional triathlete with autism
Sam Holness (28) from London has a goal to become the world’s first autistic professional triathlete and is days away from a major landmark on his journey to making this reality - competing against the world’s best at the 2021 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship, Utah.
Preparing for the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN® 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission has already been a huge learning experience for Sam.
He has spent the last two weeks in Utah acclimatising and training alongside some of the world’s best professional triathletes including fellow HOKA ONE ONE ambassador Nikki Bartlett, who like Sam, rides a Cervélo.
Sam comments; “It’s great to be here in Utah. I’ve been training hard and getting ready for the race. I really can’t wait, and I am ready to get to the start line.
“After swimming alongside Nikki, she gave me one of her swim caps from the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics where she took time out of her own racing to be an athlete guide in the para-triathlon. I am still wearing it!
“I am so excited to race this weekend. When I started triathlons five years ago, I had no idea that someone with autism could compete in the World Championship.”
Sam’s coach and father, Tony Holness comments: “As parents, my wife and I want him to be safe. As Sam’s coach, I want to push him towards a new personal best with his first sub-five-hour finish.
“Whatever happens, Sam is a winner and, hopefully, in the process, he will inspire others to participate in the sport he loves.”
To prepare for the 70.3 World Championships, Sam has been training 20-24 hours per week and completed two other half-distance races at IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire and the Outlaw Half Holkham in the UK.
Sam also wants to improve the diversity within triathlon where there is a lack of people that look like him or are from the neurodiverse community.
When asked about being a positive influence in promoting diversity, Sam’s Dad replied: “Sometimes when we go to an event, Sam is the only black competitor, and maybe the only athlete with autism. It doesn’t matter to Sam; on race day he is there to do his best just like the other triathletes, inspiring others.”
Through sport, Sam wants to change the perception that is often portrayed of people with autism by encouraging others like him to take up sport and follow his path.
Sam is also striving to become the first triathlete with autism to compete at the IRONMAN World Championship that take place in Kona, Hawaii.
Sam is supported on his journey by a team of partners including global footwear brand HOKA ONE ONE, Cervélo Cycles, and UK-based global leader in wetsuit, triathlon, and cycling clothing HUUB.
Sam is also an ambassador for Ambitious About Autism in the UK. To find out more about Sam’s journey follow him on Instagram on @samholnesstri or visit http://www.samholness.com.
For more information on the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission visit: http://www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship