Lucy Charles-Barclay explains why she won’t defend IRONMAN title in Nice

Lucy Charles-Barclay has issued a lengthy statement explaining her decision not to defend her IRONMAN World Championship crown in Nice this year.

The 30-year-old Brit dropped something of a bombshell at the launch of the PTO’s T100 Triathlon World Tour on Tuesday when revealing that long-distance triathlon’s showpiece event wasn’t on her 2024 calendar.

Her reasoning was clear – she wanted to focus on the eight-race T100 series, which requires athletes to compete in at least five races plus the Grand Final. And she felt also trying to factor in the IMWC, which this year for the women is in Nice, would be too much.

But it appears to have caused some negative reaction on social media judged by her post today which starts: “In the past two days, I’ve gotten some inappropriate messages. Feel free to express your thoughts, but I ask that you remain civil.”

She is under no obligation to race in Nice and the fact that both the T100 and the IRONMAN Pro Series are new for 2024 was always likely to force some athletes into tricky calls on what is now a packed calendar.

‘Incredible time to be involved in our sport’

And LCB, who won in Kona in brilliant fashion after four successive second places, outlined the thought process in deciding on her priorities for the season ahead.

She said: “I hold both the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) and IRONMAN in high regard, and I believe that each series provides incredible opportunities for professional athletes. It’s truly an incredible time to be involved in our sport, as both brands contribute significantly to its growth and excitement.

While making my race selections for this year, I was keen to focus solely on athletic performance and personal growth.

“However, my comments about my race selection this year has inadvertently landed me in the middle of the ongoing debate between Kona and Nice, as well as between IRONMAN and T100. My intention was never to take sides in the politics surrounding these events or organisations. I simply wanted to make decisions on where I felt I could perform my best and contribute positively to the sport.

“It is important for me to clarify that my respect for both PTO and IRONMAN remains unchanged. Each has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of professional triathlon, offering athletes platforms to showcase their talents, push their limits, and achieve remarkable feats.

Lucy Charles-Barclay at T100 Triathlon World Tour launch 2024
Lucy Charles-Barclay at the T100 Triathlon World Tour launch

‘Heightened risk of injuries’

“This year the IRONMAN World Championships are set to take place in Nice. I’ve previously mentioned that I will not be competing in Nice because my primary focus is on the T100 series. I’d like to explain my thoughts behind this decision.

“Qualifying for Nice would require me to complete either two 70.3 distance races or one full IRONMAN distance race. When combined with the T100 series, this would total at least seven championship-level races, plus one to two qualifying events within a single season. It’s unrealistic to expect to perform at my best across such a demanding schedule, not to mention the heightened risk of injuries.

“The T100 series has attracted the top 16 ranked female athletes, all of whom have committed to competing across its events. The level of competition in this series is on a par with any world championship race I’ve participated in, demanding my full attention and effort. Attempting to compete in both the T100 series and the IRONMAN World Championship in Nice for me personally, would be too much of a risk and likely lead to a lot of average performances or worse case, injuries.

Decision is ‘purely strategic and personal’

“Lastly the decision was made based on the course in Nice. It is known for its technical challenges, it would require a significant portion of my time for course familiarisation. This would inevitably divert time and energy away from my commitments to the T100 series. Given those considerations, my decision to focus solely on the T100 series is one I’ve made with careful thought to where I can best apply my efforts and excel this season.

“My recent remarks regarding the defence of my IRONMAN World Champion title in Kona, rather than in Nice, were not intended to undermine the achievements of the Nice World Champion in any manner. I recognise the beauty and the challenging nature of the Nice course, and I believe that the winner of that race is wholly deserving of being crowned the IRONMAN World Championship title.

“My decision not to compete in Nice is purely strategic and personal, and it does not reflect any negative sentiments towards the event or its participants. I look forward to competing in Kona in 2025, returning as the most recent Kona winner, albeit not as the reigning IRONMAN World Champion.”

Lucy Charles-Barclay IRONMAN World Championship Kona 2023 Tape
British triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay takes the tape to win the 2023 IMWC in Hawaii (Getty Images for IRONMAN).

And talking of Kona, she told us at the T100 launch event that getting that long-awaited victory in Hawaii last October has proved a game-changer, explaining: “I feel like a whole new person since Kona to be honest.

“I feel like I’ve had this weight pushing me down for a few years – and I didn’t even know it at the time.

“But now in my training and just in general life I feel so much more relaxed.”

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