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World’s first openly autistic athlete finishes the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship Triathlon

Pioneering Sam Holness has rewritten triathlon history as the world’s first openly autistic athlete to complete the VinFast IRONMAN® World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on 6th October 2022 (7th, October UK time).

The 29-year-old, from London, England, finished the 3.8km (2.4-mile) swim, 180km (112-mile) bike and full 42.2km (26.2-mile) marathon in 13h 05m 44s.

On completing the World Championship Triathlon, Sam said: “This is an epic event. I had some tummy issues today that made it really hard, but I pushed through, and I am so happy to finish.

“I’m definitely going to come back. I want to do this again and podium one day!

“Now I want to go have some pizza and thank all the people of Hawaii who made today so awesome!”

His father and coach, Tony Holness, added: “Marilyn, Sam’s mum, and I are the proudest parents in the world right now.

“It was so nerve racking, having to wait so long for him. He thought he would be faster, but with the stomach issues he was out longer than he expected which worried us.

“He’s a Londoner, a pioneer, a trailblazer, and he is going to go for bigger and better things. He is truly amazing, he is my hero!

“He’ also so determined and never quits. It was this tenacity that got him through the race despite having to rest every two miles on the run to settle his gut.”

Through his journey to become the world’s first openly autistic professional triathlete, Sam is helping to raise the awareness of Autism and neurodiversity by challenging stigmas and redefining limitations society imposes on people with autism.

Sam’s is supported in his quest by some of the world’s top sporting brands including Hoka running shoes, Cervelo bicycles, Stages Cycling and British brands HUUB wetsuits and clothing and SunGod sunglasses, as well as British men’s skin care brand Man Cave.

Sam is also an ambassador for Britain’s Ambitious about Autism (www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk) who like Sam is redefining how people think about Autism.

Follow Sam’s on Instagram @samholnesstri.


Sam Holness crosses the finish line. Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images Images for IRONMAN

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