Sam Long, Magnus Ditlev, Renee Kiley and Danielle Dingman have been selected as the latest wildcards for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®.
In Sam Long and Magus Ditlev we see the young guns of the sport rightfully stepping up to a championship calibre competition. Both in their early 20’s, their recent performances have announced the arrival of what may be the new guard for the PTO and professional triathlon and this pair could well be battling it out for the next decade.
In their first clash at the PTO 2020 Championship, we may witness a transcendental moment in sport that has not happened since Nadal and Federer first locked horns over 15 years and began a rivalry that brought tennis to new heights and still continues to this day.
Kiley and Dingman meanwhile will arrive in Florida ready to add new chapters to their remarkable sporting journeys so far, as they follow the unique time-honoured tradition of progressing from the age-grouper ranks to elite professional.
The quartet will join 80 all-star invitees and 16 additional top-class wildcards all fighting it out for a landmark $1,000,000 purse in front of a global TV audience on December 6th.
They will form the strongest field ever assembled for a triathlon event, with the drama fittingly set to play out at one of global sport’s most iconic venues, Daytona International SpeedwayⓇ
Sam Long–Big potential, big personality, ‘Big Unit’
Just a few short years ago this American prodigy’s journey to the big time involved sleeping in his car.
However the 24-year-old, known as ‘The Big Unit’, has definitely arrived and will rock up in December full of confidence after a string of great performances.
Long took the win at the PTO Supported Bear Lake Brawl Triathlon in September and followed up shortly after by winning IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel in Mexico.
Long’s prowess on the bike makes him one of the fastest triathletes on two wheels, and he will also bring big personality as well as big potential to the inaugural staging of this mega event.
His recent form bodes well for the future, and also marks him out as a possible Team USA member for the 2021 Collins Cup.
Magus Ditlev–Danish dynamite
Ditlev, aged just 23, is another exciting prospect in great form having secured his maiden professional victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia in September.
His success in Poland was largely due to a devastating bike split which left him more than six minutes clear of the chasing pack, which included two-time Kona hero Patrick Lange among others.
Ditlev, together with Long and USA’s Rudy Von Berg, are a new young 20-something crowd that is looking to break the mould and show that athletes don’t all necessarily hit their stride in long-distance racing until their early 30’s.
Ditlev and his youthful cohorts are no longer willing to wait patiently in the wings and are ready to send a resounding message to the long-established stars of the sport that youth is a force to be reckoned with.
Remarkable Renee–a sporting fairytale
Triathlon is full of rich back stories, and few have more flavour than that of the 37-year-old Kiley.
Hers is an incredible tale of transformation, and the Australian will arrive in Florida only three years after turning professional in 2017.
When she watched her first triathlon back in 2013, she was smoking a packet of cigarettes a day and weighed more than 100kg. That moment gave her a glimpse of the future, and it would change her life.
Her transition to elite triathlete has been both rapid and remarkable, and she is in fine form right now on the back of a recent third at the Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns. She was less than two minutes down on PTO World No 3 Sarah Crowley that day.
Dingman targeting excellence, again
Dingman is another triathlete who is still early in her professional career, having moved into the paid ranks only in 2018.
She was a top-class runner and then cyclist before taking two years out from 2015 to concentrate on a life away from sport.
The urge to compete remained strong however, and in 2017, Dingman was back on the road to elite triathlon. The rest is history.
Another athlete in fine form ahead of the PTO 2020 Championship, Dingman – like Long – was victorious at the Bear Lake Brawl Triathlon in September. She was second at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai earlier in 2020.
Having spent her high-school years in West Palm Beach, less than a three-hour drive from Daytona, December’s iconic event may feel like coming home.
There are just four more wildcards still to be selected for the PTO 2020 Championship, and they will be announced Thursday, 22nd October at 15:00 BST.