Last year, Sam made history by becoming the first openly autistic athlete to compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, half the distance of an Ironman triathlon.
He is now taking on double the distance at his first full distance Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike and full marathon – 42.2km) breaking yet more boundaries as an autistic triathlete.
Sam, 29, has been preparing for this landmark moment in the sport for the last three years, as part of his pathway to become the first professional endurance athlete with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Racing in Frankfurt, Germany on June 26, he is also set to become the world’s first openly autistic endurance athlete to compete at the Mainova Ironman® European Championship event.
Sam’s autism has proven to be his “superpower” – giving him a hyper focussed approach to his training and racing.
Sam said: “I am really excited for my first Ironman; I want to give it my best effort and get a great time.
“More than that, I want to show the world what athletes with autism can do.”
Sam’s coach and father, Tony, says: “He never misses a training session, is on time, unquestioning and hard-working, with a high threshold to push through the ‘pain’.
“Although the finish line is always at the forefront of Sam’s mind, his story is also a way to change perceptions of autism and helping to change the lives of others.”
Oliver Schiek, managing director of Ironman Germany GmbH, said: “We are excited to have ‘Super Sam’ participating in the upcoming Mainova Ironman Frankfurt European Championship.
“He encompasses what our events are all about, pushing boundaries and achieving great things by proving that anything is possible.
“Sam is an inspiration to all of us here at Ironman, and I cannot wait to see him race in Frankfurt.”
- After the Germany event, Sam will be preparing for another Ironman first for an athlete with ASD by competing at the World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
- Sam is an ambassador for Britain’s Ambitious about Autism (www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk)
- Follow Sam’s at the Ironman European Championships on Instagram@samholnesstri.