Sam Laidlow wins September PTO Athlete Of The Month and talks 2023, what’s changed and what’s next
London, UK: Sam Laidlow’s standout win at the Ironman World Championships last month in Nice unsurprisingly secured him the votes to become September’s PTO Athlete of the Month.
Giving his reaction to the award win this morning and reflecting on becoming the youngest World Champion and first Frenchman to win the title, the twenty-four year old PTO World #5 said:
“Of course it’s a privilege given there’ll only be a certain number of winners in the year. So to be one of them is pretty cool. Three weeks on it’s been a bit mad, a bit busy, but good busy. It’s just the second part of the job, which is not being an athlete, and it’s meeting sponsors, maybe meeting new partners and the other side of success. But it’s all good and it’s just another skill set that the sport demands you to evolve.”
Asked how things might have changed for him since his breakthrough win a little over three weeks ago and whether he still had to pack his own bags, Sam said:
“Of course you do. You still have to pack the dishwasher and everything and actually one of the first things I said when I crossed the line was that one of my next goals was also to be a good partner, son and friend, and that’s all the time I’m catching up now because for many years I was quite selfish in what I wanted to do. One of the next challenges for me is to just be better on all fronts.”
But having achieved his ambition of being crowned a full distance World Champion, we’ll have to wait to hear what his new goals are following time spent in a room with pencil, paper and no mobile phone. Something he mentioned he was planning to do on the Triathlon Hour podcast immediately after his Nice success.
“I’ve got some pretty big goals, but I want to let my close team and my partners know first, before l announce what’s next. But let’s just say we’ve got some pretty hefty goals and I’ll be sticking around for some time.”
Also speaking about his 2023 season, which hadn’t necessarily signposted his win in the south of France for many, Sam reflected:
“In hindsight, I definitely regret not going to Ibiza. It was tough because I had a really, really good winter. I felt like after Kona, I’d found this new gear, this new confidence that really brought me a new level in training and I was confident about the work I put in. So I went to Gran Canaria kind of not expecting too much because half Ironman is not where I excel at and I won the race. Although it wasn’t on paper a big race, the field was actually quite good when you see the results that some of the guys had later on.“
“I came back and was training well and then just had a rough time personally. So I made a decision to not go [to the PTO European Open in Ibiza]. Not even thinking at all about this whole Collin Chartier case. And then that also impacted me on top of that because people started saying that I wasn’t going to Ibiza for doping allegations or whatnot. And yeah, so I definitely regret that.”
“I then had to pull out of the second PTO race because I’d ripped my calf basically three weeks or a month before in Roth. And I could have done what some other athletes do and just pull out last minute, but I didn’t think it was fair for the people who get the roll downs, because then what ends up happening is they are scraping around trying to find an athlete. When actually the top 20 athletes need to know at least four weeks before that they’re gonna do the race. I said, listen, I won’t do the race and I’ll just have to take it on the chin. In the end, my calf healed up really nicely and I was doing some aero testing in the UK, so I raced the same weekend basically as PTO [US Open] because I was just in the UK and I wanted to test my calf out in a real world situation. So on paper, again, it looked like I was just avoiding these PTO races, but I wasn’t at all. I mean, I genuinely like to race the best and last year  I showed that racing as much as possible on the PTO circuit. So then I was like, I’m going to catch this up. Initially, at the start of the season, I didn’t want to go to the PTO Asian Open in Singapore to focus on Nice and then I went to Singapore, got covid, stayed in my room for a few days and came back. So, a tough old season.”
But what he did see in Singapore was a fantastic city that he hopes to return to next year when the PTO stage its second Asian Open on 12-14 April, 2024:
“I mean Singapore is definitely an amazing city. It’s weird seeing all the cars on the roads you’re going to race on and then the next day you’re just there racing around next to the Formula 1 track. We actually went out for a run on part of the Formula 1 track I remember…and I also didn’t realise there’s actually quite a big Asian community that follow triathlon and I think that’s only going to develop and grow bigger over the years.”
Finally, on motivation for what next, Sam said:
“It never gets easier. We either go faster or there’s new challenges. It won’t get easier and I’m ready for that, but, equally, I think a lot of media have asked me this question about how I’m going to deal with the pressure now of being a favorite and I said to be honest I feel like the complete opposite. I feel like the amount of pressure has been taken off me now, because my goal was to win the World Championships and 99% of the pressure was coming from myself. It was a deal that I made with myself years back to win this race and now I’ve done it and I feel like I can literally enjoy the next part of my career, because I will always have this. For a little while I’ll definitely be the youngest [World Champion], and I’m the first French person and these things will never go away, So I definitely feel like I can just move forward and whatever comes next is a bonus, almost. And that’s not to say I’m just gonna just be a very average pro and just make my money and leave. I really want to dominate again but dominate in a better way. I just see it all as a bonus now and I’m going to enjoy the next ride.”
The PTO Athlete of the Month is a new accolade introduced for the first time this season by the Professional Triathletes Organisation to celebrate its members across the year and recognises a female or male PTO athlete each month based on: outstanding race performances, significant movement up the PTO World Rankings and/or challenges overcome.
The six-athlete shortlist for September 2023 included (in alphabetical order) Paul Findlay, Frederic Funk, Tamara Jewett, Sam Laidlow, Tomas Rodriquez and Michael Weiss and was voted on by a panel of triathlon media as well as fans. The media panel includes: Global Triathlon Network (GTN), Triathlete, Triathlon Magazine & Tri-Mag.de Each give their 1, 2, 3 based on the shortlist and fans voted during Thursday 28 September and Friday 29 September, 2023, across the PTO’s social channels. Three points are awarded for being voted #1, 2 pts for #2 and 1 pt for #3. The points are then added up to determine the winner. Sam Laidlow collected 15 points, placing top in all the votes.
For Further Information
Anthony Scammell E: [email protected]
About the Professional Triathletes Organisation
The PTO is a new body, co-owned by the professional athletes, seeking to elevate and grow the sport of Triathlon and take it to the next level. Each PTO Open is raced over 100km (2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run). The PTO European Open on 6 May kicked off the 2023 PTO Tour and was followed by the PTO US Open in Milwaukee on 4-5 August and then the PTO Asian Open in Singapore on 19-20 August. The season has been underpinned by the new PTO World Rankings, helping to create a compelling season-long narrative in the sport for the first time.