by Mathieu Muller

Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf are currently the best performers in long distance triathlon, both originally hail from the ITU series, but are they really that similar? We take a look at the differences and similarities of their rise to the top.

They didn’t come to triathlon at the same age. Jan started with swimming as a teenager in South Africa before moving to triathlon as he turned 20 whereas Daniela, six years younger than Jan, was already combining the three sports when she was 11 years old.

At 21, Daniela was already a 2x Junior Women European Champion (2004 and 2005) and U23 Women World Champion (2008) while Jan was securing a few podiums in Europe and the World Cup.

The 2008 Olympic Games was where Jan Frodeno rose to the top. Beating the 2000 Olympic champion Simon Whitfield on a memorable sprint finish, the German outsider, who had never won any international races before, earned the gold medal – and the amount of confidence he needed to continue to beat the best in his sport as he won two ITU World Championships after his Beijing masterpiece.

Daniela and Jan’s common story starts on May 8th 2010 when they both won the 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon in Seoul. The first of the 9 podiums they will share during their ongoing careers (8 of them on Long Distance Triathlon).

The two of them ended their short course careers with the ITU World Triathlon in Madrid, 2012 for her and 2013 for him.

They had great success in their first experiences in 70.3 triathlon, however it’s in 2015, when they both join the Bahrain Elite Endurance Team, that their career took a very similar (even identical) path. From this point, in 2015 they reigned in Long Distance Ironman racing. Winning every single race they started, changing the established hierarchy with a new one, and frustrating other athletes resigned to compete for honorific places.