World Ironman champion Jan Frodeno is relishing the prospect of renewing his fierce rivalry with Alistair Brownlee after the Briton’s vow to move back up to the longer distance in the wake of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Frodeno and Brownlee clashed after the German’s victory in Hawaii last year, with Brownlee barging Frodeno during a post-race interview.
That prompted Frodeno to respond in German: “He [Brownlee] has always been a bum.”
The incident, following a perceived in-race breach of etiquette after a flat tyre, was the latest act in a long-running and often tempestuous history between the pair.
And it was one which Frodeno, who preceded Brownlee as Olympic champion in Beijing in 2008 before successfully converting to the longer distance, believes will fuel the 31-year-old’s motivation to achieve his sport’s ultimate prize.
Frodeno said: “The experience Ali had in Hawaii will leave him hungry and angry, and I believe anger is one of the things that gets Ali fired up and into his best shape.
“He has always shown he is someone who can control anger. If you can control and master it then it’s just endless fuel for the fire, and Ali has always been fiercely competitive.”
After stepping up to the distance, Brownlee opted to return to bid for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, but has reiterated his long-term intention to challenge Frodeno, seven years his senior, for Ironman superiority.
Reflecting on his rivalry with Brownlee, Frodeno added: “We’ve always wanted that top step and I think that’s why we’ve always had this very tense nature between us, because we want the same thing.
“We’ve the history, we’ve had it. [Hawaii] was something he apologised for and we wiped the slate clean there and then.
“I was fired up at the race finish. It’s important not to clean up sports too much that every statement is pre-fabricated. It was just an honest emotion, and for us it’s done.”
Currently living under full lockdown in Spain, Frodeno last week completed an Ironman in his home in Girona, and has currently raised over 222,000 euros for local healthcare institutions and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
“It’s quite unsatisfying when you’re a professional athlete in these times, because I don’t possess a skill that is useful to society, let’s be very honest,” added Frodeno.
“So the idea was to get a voice and to be able to help those on the frontline. We got athletes and legends of sport involved from all over the world, and it was really humbling. It was the easiest Ironman I’ve ever done.”
:: Jan Frodeno is a Laureus Ambassador. The link to donate is viprize.org/frodeno.