There was anticipation in his voice with every word. “This year, what I’m most looking forward to is making it to as many starting lines as possible and exploiting my maximum potential there again,” emphasized Jan Frodeno.

The hard and many hours of training were not a means to an end after the setbacks of the past year. For Frodeno they were and are the enjoyable way back to the starting line.

It’s that time again on Saturday at Oceanside Harbor Beach. In the sunshine state of the USA, the German triathlon superstar is making another comeback after setbacks and injuries. It will be the eagerly awaited start of the now 41-year-old’s last season at the top level.

At the beginning of May over a similar distance in Ibiza, the Ironman in Hamburg at the beginning of June, where the European Championship title for the professional men will be awarded this year, at the beginning of August a race in the USA and in September the Ironman World Championships in Nice – so Frodeno’s plan.

Training hours “a pleasure”

“Mentally, it’s natural for me to get up again and try again, because these many hours of training don’t mean torture for me, but are now also a pleasure and a privilege with a lot of awareness,” he told the German Press Agency before March 70th -Race in California over 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike and 21.1 km run: “And it is the certainty that this is the great calling in my life.”

But the new generation has long since arrived. In Ibiza, there should be a giant duel between Frodeno and the 29-year-old Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt at the beginning of May. Both of them achieved what no other triathlete has ever achieved: They became Olympic champions and Ironman world champions. Except that Blummenfelt went one better than Frodeno: While the native of the Rhineland won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 and seven years later the first of his three Ironman World Championship titles, Blummenfelt achieved it within less than twelve months.

He won Olympic gold in Tokyo in July 2021 over 1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running. In May 2022 he triumphed at the Ironman World Championships in St. George over 3.86 kilometers of swimming, 180.2 kilometers of cycling and 42.2 kilometers of running.

Help via social media

And because Frodeno needs a wildcard for the race in Ibiza, he recently radioed Blummenfelt and his three-year-old training partner and buddy Gustav Iden, Ironman World Champion in Hawaii 2022, via social networks and asked for help. “Relax, Jan. I think I know someone who knows someone who knows someone,” Blummenfelt replied.

But before that, the race in Oceanside, where Frodeno celebrated the last of his three victories there in 2018, will be a stress test for his body. First a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon, then major hip problems after a wheel fall, which had to be treated several times surgically, had stopped him last year. He had to end his comeback race in Roth prematurely, because of pain in his Achilles tendon he got out of the running track shortly after the change.

“I used to be aware and also certain that somehow I always got it right. And to be fair, that hasn’t been the case in recent years,” said Frodeno, looking at his injuries. In 2017 he dragged himself to the finish in Hawaii with bad back problems, in 2018 he had to cancel his participation because of his hip, and in 2019 he won his third title. Last year he couldn’t compete in either Utah or Hawaii.

Living in Andorra

In addition to his inner circle, the hope for upcoming competitions and the appropriate planning, it was his children who helped him the most during the injury period, “to simply put the whole thing in perspective”. Frodeno now lives with his wife Emma, ​​who also won triathlon gold for Australia in 2008, and their two children in Andorra. He wanted to change the environment again, set new stimuli and moved from Girona in Spain to prepare for the final phase of his career at high altitude.

Oceanside should show how that can turn out. The training is going great, assured Frodeno. But he also admitted: “From time to time the thoughts are of course already there, what if something happens if it doesn’t last. There is a bit of worry, fear and other things, but that’s part of it, especially in the advanced athlete age. That makes it all the more exciting.”