Jeff Symonds was the surprise at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, Nev.
That is what the Bleacher Report called Symonds’ third-place finish on Sept. 12.
“I surprised myself even,” said Symonds, of clocking in at 3:58:42, behind Australian winner Craig Alexander (3:54:48) and American Chris Lieto (3:58:03). “I knew I was fit and capable of putting down that type of performance in terms of time wise and effort wise. I just didn’t know how I would stack up against the best in the world.”
According to the story published by the Bleacher Report, Symonds, who finished 11th in the bike portion, gained on the field and surprised many race observers not familiar with him. Symonds entered the event ranked 13th among professionals but his age, 25, made him the second youngest male in the field and “lacking the clout of more experienced racers.”
Symonds said all the top men who competed are all full-time athletes.
“For me, being a guy who still works part-time at the Bike Barn to make ends meet and also I was the second youngest professional in the field, it was a little bit of a surprise,” he said.
Symonds, who turns 26 on Oct. 1, was so excited crossing the finish line because he was unsure he would get a podium position. Symonds said in some of those races, athletes have time to set in, but when he was running and passed the third-place runner about five kilometres into the finish, he kept thinking there is no way he would be on the podium.
“This is too good to be true,” said Symonds of what he was thinking. “I’m sprinting as fast as I could down the line. It wasn’t until I hit that finish line that I realized, this actually did just happen. And I let it all out. I was just really excited.”
It’s a result he said that definitely changes your life.
“The doors have been opened,” he said, of the best career finish.
Not only does Symonds think it lifts his confidence, it has given him the belief for the first time that he can be a world champion. It’s something he seriously wants to shoot for.
“I always dreamed of winning Ironman Canada,” said Symonds, who credited coach Kevin Cutjar for the work he has done with him. “To think that possibly winning a world championship is almost beyond a dream.”
The result in Nevada also secured the fact Symonds doesn’t have to leave his hometown to train and make a career of competing in triathlons. Now is also a key time for Symonds to secure sponsorship to enable him to train full-time. The Bike Barn gave him time off to go to Nevada, he also went to the world’s largest bike convention to find things that might benefit the store and line up sponsors. Right now he only has verbal commitments, as he wants to explore all his options.
“It’s important for me to stay with the local companies that have helped me get here,” he said.
After seeing what he’s capable of, Symonds is already thinking about next year as he wants to win the world championship.