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Olympic gold medalist raises over €220,000 for Catalan health authorities

Jan Frodeno completed Ironman challenge at home in 8 hours 33 minutes to help in coronavirus fight

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21 April 2020 07:50 PM

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Cillian Shields | Barcelona

Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno has raised over €220,000 for health services and charities in Catalonia and his native Germany to help tackle the Covid-19 public health crisis. 

The Girona resident performed an Ironman challenge in his own home while in lockdown, and money was raised on viprize.org/frodeno, where people can buy prizes for themselves, or directly donate to the fund. 

"It just went through the roof," Frodeno excitedly explained. Comparing his original expectations with the amount of donations he received, he said "it was incredible support to receive."

The triathlete explained that prizes were donated by his partners and sponsors, and include bikes, watches, and even personal experiences such as going for a bike ride through the northern Catalan mountains with the 2008 Men’s Olympic Triathlon winner. 

The German has won the World Ironman Championships in 2019, 2016, and 2015, and has the equipment in his Girona home to carry out the training, although he admits the period of home confinement has been tough on him as it has been on everybody else. 

Helping health services

Frodeno is a Laureus ambassador, and together they are setting up a Laureus Spain Foundation in order to process the donations and give the money to appropriate hospitals, institutions, and organizations. He explains that "very often it’s not the money that’s missing, it’s just the organization," due to the workload medical professionals are being faced with these weeks.

"I’m speaking to the director of Trueta, the local hospital here in Girona, to find out what they need exactly, so we can go out and buy it for them," says Frodeno.

"I started a little programme to have a local café make some lunch for the nurses and doctors, and I would love to continue this, so they go for lunch and there’s a warm, nice meal prepared for them. All these kinds of things we’re trying to establish at the moment, find out what is needed and give this money to institutions," he explains.

Over the past 20 years, Laureus Sport for Good has seen millions of young people come through its programmes and currently supports more than 200 community programmes in over 40 countries that use the power of sport to transform lives.

Triathlon at home

In a time of 8 hours, 33 minutes, and 39 seconds, he ran a marathon on his treadmill, 42.2 km, cycled 180 km on his roller trainer, and swam 3.8 km in his counter-current pool, all making up his 'Tri at Home challenge.'

He recognises that, with such equipment available to use at home, his are "first world problems," and says that his desire to do something to help out during the coronavirus crisis was born from his frustration of not being able to do more to help. 

"It’s quite unsatisfying when you’re a professional athlete in these times. I don’t possess a skill that is useful to society, let’s be very honest, in this hard time. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, I’m not a specialist who can help on the front line. So maybe the idea was to get a voice and to be able to help those in the front line," he said.

The lockdown plays a psychological toll on everybody’s minds, and this is as true for Olympic gold medalists as it is for the rest of society. For Frodeno, he says it can be "tricky" to find the motivation to get himself up every morning and train for hours, when currently there is no end date put on when the confinement restrictions will be lifted.

"We are confined 100% indoors, so of course, you really miss running in the mountains or through the fields, but I’m a professional athlete, I have to make do with what I can, it’s my job. But the tricky part is getting up every morning at 6 o’clock, when it’s going to be a while until I have to be in some really good shape."

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  • Triathlete Jan Frodeno running on his treadmill during his Ironman challenge in his Girona home, which has raised over €220,000 for health services during the coronavirus crisis (image courtesy of Laureus)

  • Triathlete Jan Frodeno running on his treadmill during his Ironman challenge in his Girona home, which has raised over €220,000 for health services during the coronavirus crisis (image courtesy of Laureus)

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