With four world championships to his name, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack is one of the most successful athletes in the history of triathlon.
The only male athlete to conquer every triathlon distance with World Championship gold, Macca is considered the most complete multi-sport athlete ever. Under his guiding hand, the Bahrain Endurance 13 have achieved a cumulative total of 20 world championship titles, the iron distance and half-iron distance world records, and countless wins.
This has not happened by chance, Macca said during this exclusive GDN interview as he broke down the team for 2021-2022 and described it as ‘the strongest ever’. In his own words he points out the challenges ahead ...
We are purposeful with the athletes we select because we’re not just looking for current success in the sport ... they have to fit into our ethos of a continuous drive for excellence.
This culture we’ve built in the team is inspiring and infectious and creates an amazing environment that athletes thrive in across all distances and forms of racing.
I can say without a doubt that the 2021-2022 team is the strongest we have ever fielded. This year’s team is strong and experienced but will also bring a new generation of stars along to future-proof the team.
At its outset, the team was built around long-distance triathlon – ironman (which involves a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run) and 70.3 (approximately half the ironman distances in each leg).
Our team patron and captain Shaikh Nasser, His Majesty King Hamad’s Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, is an Ironman world champion in his own right, and we have continued to build on this heritage to remain the most dominant team and group of racers in this space.
But athletic careers are finite. You can’t just have a Jan Frodeno or Daniela Ryf. Holly Lawrence is stepping up to the ironman distance and Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez are transitioning into 70.3 and ironman, even as they’re going to give us one more Olympic campaign.
Over the past few years we’ve brought in the short-distance triathlon presence to build across all facets of racing within the sport.
If we’re the world’s best team, then we need to be the best across all distances.
Olympic triathlon, which makes up the bulk of World Triathlon Series championship racing and is the distance done at the Olympic Games, is a quarter of the length of an ironman.
Super sprint, which is the kind of racing Super League Triathlon and the mixed team relay world championship focuses on, is even shorter.
These shorter distances are the domain of youth, and are where and how the best in the world come up in triathlon. You’ve got to sign that new younger talent. We now have some of the best in the world with a big focus on Tokyo Olympic Games success and then a build to be extremely successful at the Paris Olympics.
We started building out our strength in Olympic racing with Vincent Luis, Vicky Holland and Kristian Blummenfelt. Now with Henri Schoeman, Tyler Mislawchuk, and Cassandre Beaugrand we’ve got the firepower that will put us up near the pointy end in the Olympic Games.
I think we’ll be teeing off for a potential gold medal not just in the individual event, but also the mixed team relay (involving two male and two female team members who will each swim, bike, and run over super sprint distances). The team gold medal I think we will win off the back of our strong French athletes, who have dominated this format for two world championships in a row.
And then we have a big focus on individual gold with Alistair back to try and win his third Olympics. Vincent is probably his most feared competitor; he is the current dual world champion who since he has joined the Bahrain Endurance 13 has gone on to be the favourite for Olympic gold success.
Adding Henri and Tyler to the mix, BE13 will be all over the front of the Olympic men’s race. On the women’s side both Cassandre and Vicky start as favourites to win medals at the Games.
This team gives us some depth in those distances not just for this year, but even looking ahead to the next Olympic cycle and beyond. These Olympic stars also have the potential to become long-distance stars. Jan, Daniela, Alistair and Javier came from Olympic-style racing, and it’s why they’ve become the champions they are in long distance. It’s about being part of and contributing to that trajectory.
In order to get a spot on this team – which is fast becoming one of the things that most athletes want to achieve at some point in their career – you have to be well-balanced.
You have to be able to compete across the three disciplines, be a big race performer, and you have to bring something to the team that the other athletes will benefit from.
Most of the team have been training out of established training hubs in Europe, Australia and Hawaii. This ability to plug into the team training assets around the world and train with team mates has provided a great shield from the difficulties many athletes have faced alone during this pandemic.
Bahrain Endurance has really created the global truing hubs for its team members, and these have continued to provide the basis for our team’s successful preparations and training.
The global disruption in the sports space has created some obstacles for many athletes, but the power of team has never been more obvious until you face a crisis like we have. I believe the strength of the Bahrain Endurance 13 will be even more apparent when we return to racing this season. We will be unstoppable.
It is a privilege to work with such ambitious and inspirational athletes and under the patronage of such a driven athlete and high performer in his own right HHSN.
In our seven years of existence the Kingdom has made great leaps and strides in sport, and not just in triathlon. Only recently, the Bahrain Victorious cycling team signed Ahmed Madan, making him the first Bahraini to make a WorldTour roster. He came through the Bahrain national team and the Bahrain Cycling Academy.
We look forward to the time when a Bahrain youngster will be a part of the high-performance team and win a World Championship as a by-product of being inspired by all we have done. We are literally only a few years away from this reality, and that is exciting.
You become a triathlete when you race the disciplines of swim, bike and run – all in one event – regardless of the distances of each leg. The shortest triathlons can be finished in less than 30 minutes, while the longest ones can take up to 17 hours.
*Super sprint: 500m swim (or less), 5 (to 10) km bike, 2km run
*Sprint: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
*Olympic (or standard): 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
*Ironman 70.3 (or half-iron distance): 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run
*Ironman (or iron distance): 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42km run
The Bahrain Endurance 13 have won a combined 20 world titles among other accolades.
Here are each of their major achievements:
*Jan Frodeno - 3x Ironman World Champion, 2x Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Beijing Olympic gold medalist, 3x Ironman European Champion, Iron distance world record holder
*Daniela Ryf - 4x Ironman World Champion, 5x Ironman 70.3 World Champion, 2015 NBH Triple Crown winner, 2x Olympian, U23 World Champion, Junior European Champion
*Javier Gomez - 5x ITU Triathlon World Champion, London Olympic silver medalist, 2x Ironman 70.3 World Champion, ITU Long Distance World Champion, 2x Ironman World Championship qualifier
*Alistair Brownlee - 2x Olympic gold medalist (London, Rio), 2x ITU Triathlon World Champion, Commonwealth Games gold medalist, 2x Ironman champion, 2x Ironman World Championship qualifier, U23 Triathlon World Champion, Junior Triathlon World Champion
*Holly Lawrence - Ironman 70.3 World Champion and Vice-Champion, 3x Ironman 70.3 Middle East Champion, swept 2019 Ironman 70.3 regional championships in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East
*David Plese - Ironman champion, 5x Ironman World Championship qualifier, Slovenia National Champion, training partner to His Highness Shaikh Nasser
*Lauren Parker - ITU Paratriathlon World Champion and bronze medalist, Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, Ironman World Championship Age Group Vice-Champion, Ironman Age Group Champion
*Vicky Holland - Rio Olympic bronze medalist, ITU Triathlon World Champion, 2x Olympian, Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and mixed relay gold medalist, 2x ITU Mixed Relay World Champion
*Henri Schoeman - Rio Olympic bronze medalist, Commonwealth Games gold medalist and mixed relay silver medalist, Super League Triathlon series vice-champion, 4x ITU African champion
*Vincent Luis - 2x ITU Triathlon World Champion, 2x ITU Mixed Relay World Champion, Super League Triathlon series champion, 2x Olympian, Junior Triathlon World Champion, Junior European Champion, 2x French National Champion
*Kristian Blummenfelt - Ironman 70.3 world record holder, 3x Ironman 70.3 Middle East Champion, Olympian, 2x Norwegian National Champion and Sprint National Champion
*Cassandre Beaugrand - Tokyo Test Event Mixed Relay Winner, 3x ITU Mixed Relay World Champion, Olympian, U23 World vice-champion, Junior World vice-champion, French National Champion
*Tyler Mislawchuk - Tokyo Test Event Individual Winner, Olympian, Commonwealth Games representative, Canadian National Champion, Canadian Junior National Champion and Junior National Series winner.