The decision was well considered: With Sebastian Kienle, one of the most influential and successful German triathletes has announced that he wants to end his career. Not immediately, but by the end of 2023 it should be: “That’s it. That’s the end!”
Kind of a finish line for himself
The 37-year-old said that late on Monday evening on his social channels with his trademark, the cap slightly slanted on his head. Every now and then the thought of quitting had crossed his mind, “But then there are other voices who say: ‘You have a great life!'”
In the past two years, the desire arose to put a defined end for yourself. “I no longer want the pressure I put on myself. I realized that I needed some kind of finish line. “ After all, he had been a professional for more than 20 years.
Don’t quit like Faris Al-Sultan
“I had longer phases when I really didn’t feel like it anymore.” He did not want to resign like Faris Al-Sultan, who spontaneously announced his resignation when he left the race. “For me, sport is a very clear one-way street: I always want to get better”, explained Kienle. “If I notice that that is no longer possible, then it’s time to resign. Of course, that’s damn hard to acknowledge.”
That the injury problems increased – especially the left Achilles tendon (“my voice below left”) and he became a father for the first time in the summer, plays a role. The traditional race in Roth at the beginning of September was decisive when the Hawaii winner from 2014 gave up prematurely for the third time in his career. Again the heel hurt too much.
The goal is a world title in 2022
Nevertheless, there is still an ambitious goal: “I still want to win a world title.” The fact that the Ironman Hawaii will take place twice next year – in February and October 2022 – even gives the endurance enthusiast from Mühlacker in Baden-Württemberg two options. For 2023 he is planning a kind of farewell tour with races that “I’ve never been able to do it “ and in places “I’ve always wanted to see”.
With Kienle’s departure, a generation change is heralded among German long-distance triathletes: Andreas Raelert will soon be leaving almost unnoticed. The 45-year-old Rostock, who missed the Hawaiian triumph several times, has not belonged to the top of the world in recent years.
The dominant Jan Frodeno is already 40 years old
Unlike the three-time Hawaii champion Jan Frodeno, who recently pushed some frustration over competitions that were canceled due to corona or weather conditions. The beam man, who lives in Girona, is expected to once again bundle all his strengths for his fourth Hawaii win – and then perhaps end his career in Kona. Frodeno turned 40 in the summer.
Of the Germans who have dominated the Ironman Mecca since 2014, only Patrick Lange, who lives in Salzburg, would then be active, who also triumphed in the Challenge competition in Roth two months ago. The 35-year-old is still full of motivation and plans, will publish his biography next year and has apparently turned so many screws through the long break in the pandemic that the native of Hesse is still capable of one or the other coup.
It takes a long time on the long distance
Nils Frommhold achieved good results again and again, but the Berliner is already 35 – and is still waiting for the big international breakthrough. Problem is, it takes a lot of borderline experience in this extreme sport that pushes the body to the brink of collapse. Not to be underestimated is the enormous mental strength that most top stars only develop over the years, once they have gone through various lows.
Kienle is pretty sure that the German dominance will soon crumble, but sees more of an opportunity in this: “It’s really cool that completely new countries appear on the map. That will keep our sport attractive and let it grow.” He sees it as his job to get young people enthusiastic about this sport. He could well imagine setting up youth programs that are also aimed at the kids.
Concerns about climate change
The gin collector and bon vivant wants to keep his active lifestyle, swimming competitions or gravel races are on the to-do list after the end of his career, but no longer a triathlon. Otherwise the topic of sustainability is anchored in the long-standing physics student.
The rapid changes caused by climate change would frighten him, revealed Kienle almost at the same time in the podcast “Pushing Limits”. In South Africa, he had last seen how the water taps were unscrewed because of the lack of water. It is a topic that is clearly close to his heart – and also makes you feel guilty, “if I emit eleven tons of CO2 on a flight to Hawaii – more than the average German citizen in a year.”
He also countered Lance Armstrong
Kienle, who finished second again in Hawaii (2016) and twice third (2013, 2019), plus three Ironman European Champion in Frankfurt (2014, 2016, 2017), has made a name for himself as a reflective athlete. His quick-wittedness is remarkable, his demeanor exemplary.
When the Ironman 2012 rolled out the red carpet for the doping wheel star Lance Armstrong, mainly for profit reasons, in order to increase the attention with the American, the character head was one of the few who opposed this PR campaign.
“Lance Armstrong does not need the triathlon. The world federation is doing a 180-degree turnaround, if only massively advertised with an anti-doping program, then someone is invited whose indications are clear.”, criticized Kienle. Shortly afterwards, Armstrong’s construct of lies collapsed.
Stand: 02.11.2021, 11:49
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Sebastian Kienle draws the line for the end of 2023