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Ironman champion Frodeno: 'Travel broadens the mind'

2015 was a year to remember for Jan Frodeno. Among other things, the German became the first triathlete, male or female, to win gold in both the Olympic triathlon and the Ironman World Championship.

DW: Jan Frodeno, with all of your successes in 2015, it really was quite a year for you. It must be hard to wipe that grin off your face!

Jan Frodeno: (Laughs) actually, this grin has almost been permanent in recent months. Having just won the Ironman in Hawaii, the most important of all triathlons, at the cradle of the sport, makes me proud. You don't realize all that goes with it until later. I am very pleased to have become the first triathlete to be named Germany's male athlete of the year!

This must be keeping you pretty busy!

Yes. Since the Ironman victory I have been traveling a lot. But I see this as an opportunity to promote the sport of triathlon. Germany is a triathlon nation. You just have to look at how many people compete in it. So I accept all of the invitations I get, even though it is a lot of stress. Maybe I can help open sources of revenue for triathletes who have until now been denied them. We need this attention.

For a long time you were skeptical about the Ironman. What made you change your mind?

All I can say is that travel broadens the mind. The first time that I watched the race in Hawaii, I just knew that one day I wanted to be the first to run down Alii Drive (the finish line). Hawaii is simply legendary, the most famous race in our sport. Even if from a sporting point of view, the 2008 Olympic gold medal just as valuable.

What was your personal highlight in 2015?

The fact that my wife Emma is expecting a child.

You are regarded as the perfect triathlete, you began as a swimmer, you are now a world-class cyclist, not to mention being a world-clas runner. You are also known as an outstanding tactician. So is there any area in which you can still improve?

There are quite a few things, because there is always something. You always have to keep working, stay focused.

Jan Frodeno auf Hawaii

It was the Hawaii event that first convinced Frodeno to reconsider his skepticism about Ironman competitions

As difficult as it is to get to the top, they say it is even more difficult to stay there. Do you ever fear dropping off the pedestal?

No, I don't. I have experienced setbacks in my career but I worked by way back up. At the moment I'm just enjoying it. It took a long time to get to the top. I hope things continue to go well for a few years. And if not, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I'm satisfied with what I have achieved, with what is happening to me. Even if taking part and being successful in competitive sports were to suddenly come to an end for some reason, it wouldn't be the end of the world. But I don't expect that to happen.

Your wife, Emma Snowsill, won gold for Australia in the triathlon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. So does this mean that only a triathlete can live with someone who trains 40 hours a week?

It defninitely takes a lot of understanding. It's not just all the training, but there is all the travel and other commitments, appearances for sponsors, now even television appearances. But it's no different for top executives in the business world. They work 100-hour weeks, and their wives don't know things any other way. Emma has first-hand experience. That helps.

Early in the new year you will become a father. Do you think that this will change your attitude towards training, to your sport?

(Laughs) the first thing I said was that the baby must always sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Then thre will be no problem with training. We'll have to wait and see whether it will work out that way...

Jan Frodeno, 34, is a native of Cologne who grew up in South Africa and now spends most of his time in Spain. In 2008, he won gold in the men's triathlon at the Beijing Olympics. In 2015 he won the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and the prestigious Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. He was recently named Germany's male athlete of the year for 2015.

The interview was conducted by Tobias Oelmaier.