Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 16 October |
Saint of the Day: St. Gerard Majella
Aleteia logo
home iconInspiring Stories
line break icon

Triathlete becomes first person with autism to complete the Ironman Triathlon

Sam Holness

samholnesstri | Instagram | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/27/21

Sam Holness hopes his success will inspire others on the autism spectrum.

Competing in an Ironman competition is often the pinnacle of many athletes’ sporting lives. That grueling 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run will definitely stretch these sportsmen and women to their physical and mental limits.

However, Sam Holness, a 27-year-old triathlete, recently participated in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah, and in doing so, became the first person with autism to complete the race.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sam Holness (@samholnesstri)

With the encouragement of his father, Tony, who is also his coach, the British man trained for over a year to prepare for this huge event. And on the day, Holness, who has autism spectrum disorder, had to contend with a myriad of tricky external factors that made the race all the harder.

Holness dealt with rain and lightning, which was then topped with a sandstorm. These conditions could have caused extra sensory stress for the athlete, considering his autism. But he still came in at an impressive 5 hours and 44 minutes.

While Holness shared with CBS News that he was proud of his achievement, he also added: “I’m happy and I can’t wait to get back to training.”

The triathlete’s parents were filled with emotion, and they ended up in tears when they witnessed their son cross the finishing line. “I think at times, it’s better to be doing the race than sitting from the sidelines watching it,” explained Tony. “Because once he went on the cycle, it’s just, we have no control at all.”

Tony actually gave up his job to support his son’s athletic ambitions that grew when he started studying for his bachelor’s degree in sports science. And now, seeing his son achieve such an impressive feat, Tony is left thinking: “Actually, we sit down and we think: ‘Is it real?'”

Now Holness is planning on becoming the first professional triathlete with autism, and will take part virtually in the London Marathon and a triathlon in Portugal in October. He and his father hope that his achievements will inspire others:

“If you can just inspire people and raise the awareness of autism, help employers to start recruiting more people on the spectrum and do it through sport, and that’s narrowing it down to what our mission is and what we want to do,” shared Tony.

While Holness’ record is so inspiring, what is equally impressive is the love and dedication of his parents to help their son conquer whatever obstacles he has to face along the way.

Tags:
DisabilitiesInspiring storiesSports
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Larry Peterson
This is the only officially recognized Marian apparition in the U...
2
Philip Kosloski
A scientist describes the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima
3
NIGHTBIRDE
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde finds inspiration in Joan of Arc
4
AVENIDO BROTHERS
Agnès Pinard Legry
Three brothers ordained priests on the same day in the Philippine...
5
Cerith Gardiner
Archbishop gives little girl a beautiful response about why God a...
6
POPE JOHN JOHN XXIII
Philip Kosloski
Vatican II’s primary goal, according to St. John XXIII
7
GETAFE
Dolors Massot
Two sisters become nuns at the same time in Spain
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.