Triathlon finally got the much coveted Olympic medal sport status in 1994. Countries actively participating in the sport like the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom welcomed this development and subsequently went into full-on preparation mode for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In the mean time, triathlon milestones were being made in the various sporting circuits around the globe.
Triathlon at the Pan American Games
1995 saw the sport’s first appearance in the Pan American Games, a major multi-sport event held in Mar del Plata, Argentina on March 12 to March 26. This is so far the second time that triathlon got included in a multi-sport event. Just the prior year, triathlon was also a part of the 24 sporting events featured on the Goodwill Games held in Russia.
Mark Allen claims his sixth gold
Professional triathlete Mark Allen dominated Ironman Hawaii in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993. Allen, who earned the nickname “The Grip” which is short for “The Grip of Death”, took a one-year hiatus from the grueling endurance race, returning in 1995 to take home the gold once more. Allen never again raced after this, presumably because his 1995 win, which happened to be his sixth, already equaled that of triathlon legend and first ever Ironman Hall of Fame inductee Dave Scott’s. This makes Allen the only other triathlete to ever hold six Ironman titles under his belt.
Female triathlete sets unbelievable record
Triathlon is undeniably a sport dominated by men. But since the sport’s inception, females have been competing alongside their male counterparts. And in 1995, one woman made a remarkable record in the history of triathlon. That year, Pennsylvania native Karen Smyers took home the gold from three different competitions.
She got first prize from the Pan American Games held earlier in the year. She also took the titles from both the Olympic-distance ITU World Championship held in Cancun, Mexico as well as the Hawaii Ironman World Championship. The ITU and Ironman World Championships were only 35 days apart, so Smyers’ extraordinary victory is certainly noteworthy and is something which is yet to be repeated by another woman.
Wheelchair sportsperson MacLean finishes Ironman
Physically challenged triathletes have been competing in Ironman ever since the event’s inception. Amputees Pat Griskus and Jim MacLaren, and wheelchair competitor Jon Franks, are notable examples. Franks’ participation in the 1994 Hawaii Ironman, although he was unable to complete the course, was what inspired Australian John MacLean to conquer the Kona course, making him the first ever wheelchair sportsperson to finish the grueling race in 1995.