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Norway’s latest sports feat: Kristian Blummenfelt’s fastest Ironman in history

Kristian Blummenfelt

TOPSHOT - Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt celebrates finishing first to win gold in the men’s individual triathlon competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Norwegians woke Sunday to learn that one of the nation’s most famous athletes was fired from one of the most prestigious coaching jobs in sport.

They went to bed perhaps not yet knowing that a budding legend finished an incredible sports double.

Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, completed an Ironman-distance triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico just after 8:35 p.m. Norway time. Almost exactly 14 hours earlier, Manchester United announced that its manager, former Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær, had been fired.

While the soccer story got more play, Blummenfelt’s performance may endure.

The Bergen native covered the 140.6 miles -- 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run -- in 7 hours, 21 minutes, 12 seconds in his race debut at the distance. That’s 6:41 swifter than the previous fastest Ironman in history recorded by German Jan Frodeno, the 2008 Olympic champion, on July 18.

Blummenfelt, 27, did that less than four months after winning the Olympic triathlon, which is 32 miles. Olympic triathletes often convert to Ironman, but success in both on that short of a turnaround is rare.

Reports stated that Cozumel competitors benefited from a strong current in the swim.

Blummenfelt clocked 39:41 for that portion, about eight minutes faster than the top men at the 2019 Kona Ironman World Championship and six minutes faster than Frodeno in his record time in July in a non-traditional, head-to-head event with Canadian Lionel Sanders.

Ironman brand officials don’t use the term “world record” anyway due to the variance of courses around the world (and even from year to year on the same course).

That said, the Ironman brand does consider Blummenfelt’s time a “world best” and the fastest time in history for an Ironman-distance triathlon, according to a Monday email.

Norway, the world’s 118th most populous nation (five million), has been punching well above its weight across a bevy of sports. It is the most successful nation in Winter Olympic history, also claiming the most medals at the PyeongChang Winter Games (39, eight more than the runner-up).

In the last four years, Norway has produced the following: a soccer world player of the year (Ada Hegerberg), arguably the single greatest performance of the Tokyo Olympics (Karsten Warholm‘s 400m hurdles world record), the world’s fastest miler in 2021 (Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen), its first Olympic beach volleyball medalists (gold medalists Anders Mol and Christian Sørum) and its first top-10-ranked male golfer (Viktor Hovland) and tennis player (Casper Ruud).

Erling Haaland also won the Golden Boot at the 2019 U20 men’s World Cup, and Magnus Carlsen has been world champion in chess since 2013.

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