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Timothy O'Donnell


Full Name: Timothy O'Donnell
Hometown: Shavertown, Pa.
Resides: Boulder, Colo.
College: U.S. Naval Academy
Height: 5-11½
Weight: 165
Birthdate: Oct. 1, 1980
Birth Place: Orlando, Fla.
First Year Elite: 2003
Final 2007 ITU Rank: 68
Final 2007 USAT Rank: 6

Media Links
Timothy O'Donnell's Website
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Career Highlights

2009 ITU Long Distance World Champion
2009 USAT Non-ITU Athlete of the Year
2003 USAT Under-23 National Champion

2011 Highlights: Winner of the Ironman 70.3 Calgary on July 31 with a time of 3:56:25, which was nearly six minutes clear of the field.

2010 Highlights: Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2012 program • Finished as the runner-up at the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship on Sept. 25 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Placed 17th at the Tongyeong ITU World Cup on Oct. 16 • Captured the silver medal at the 2010 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Germany on Aug. 1 • Winner of the July 11 Boulder Peak Triathlon • Finished second at the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 on May 2 • Won the Ironman 70.3 U.S. Pro Championship as the top American finisher (second overall) at the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas on April 25 • Placed fifth at the Ironman 70.3 California in March.

Elite Triathlon Career: Six-time U.S. Armed Forces champion (2003-08) • Named the 2009 USAT Non-ITU Athlete of the Year • Took first at the 2009 ITU Long Distance World Championship in Perth, Australia • Was the runner-up finisher at the 2009 USAT Elite National Championship and placed third at the ITU Pan American Championships in Oklahoma City • Also posted wins at the Ironman St. Croix, Ironman Calgary, 5430 Long Course Triathlon and Boulder Peak Triathlon • Placed seventh at the 2008 USAT Elite National Championship • Was the No. 2 American finisher at the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championship • Also placed second at the 2008 Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs event • Named to USAT National Team in 2007 • Won his fifth-straight U.S. Armed Forces National Title in 2007 • Finished fourth at Rincon Pan American Cup and fourth at both the Mekong Asian Cup and Los Angeles Triathlon in 2007 • Member of the U.S. 2007 Elite World Championship Team in Hamburg, Germany, where he finished 43rd • Competed in four World Cup events • Joined the elite/pro ranks in 2003 • First elite/pro race was the 2003 Chicago Triathlon • Came out of the water in second behind Australia’s Craig Walton, but during the bike his seatpost broke, sending him flying off the bike and onto the ground hard; Did not finish the race • In 2004, finished in the top 10 of every race he entered except one • Joined Team Kinesys, a pro triathlon team that uses team cycling tactics, in 2005.
Amateur Triathlon Career: Led the Naval Academy men's triathlon team to collegiate national titles in 2002 and 2003 • Was the 2003 under-23 national champion • Finished first at the 2002 Gulf Coast Half Triathlon and the 2002 Boulder Peak Triathlon • Finished second at the 2003 USAT Collegiate National Championship.

Athletic Background:
Competitive swimmer since the age of 5 • All-state high school swimmer in Pennsylvania • Swam for the U.S. Naval Academy varsity swim team.

Timothy O'Donnell • Born Oct. 1, 1980, in Orlando, Fla. • Parents are Gerard and Barbara O'Donnell • Has a sister, Katie, and two brothers, Thomas and Matthew • Thomas is also in the Navy • Godfather of his nephew, Robert James Riccobon • Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with distinction and a B.S. in naval architecture in 2003 • During his senior year at the Academy, juggled triathlon training, academics and was the 1st Battalion Commander, in charge of 1/6th of the student body • Upon graduating, was selected to join the elite Navy Special Operations Community (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) • Earned a master's degree in engineering at the University of California in 2005 • Before racing, Tim likes to have a cookies n'cream PowerBar, orange Gatorade, a bagel and a banana.
by Alison Hankins
Elite triathlete Timothy O’Donnell is no stranger to wearing stars and stripes at the highest levels. Whether racing in ITU World Cups as a member of USAT’s Elite National Team or serving as Lieutenant in the Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Demolition Group, O’Donnell has always excelled.
Following high school, O’Donnell reported to the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Md., where he served as the 6th Battalion Commander and was responsible for 700 members of the Brigade of Midshipman. During that time he led the Naval Academy to two U.S. Men’s National Triathlon Championship titles. 

In May of 2003 O’Donnell graduated with Honors and was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. That same year he won both the 2003 U.S. Under-23 (U23) National Championships and the Armed Forces Triathlon Championships, where he set a new course record. Following graduation he served in the Explosive Ordinance Demolition (EOD) Group One in San Diego where he completed the EOD Diver course as class leader and honor graduate. 

In 2007 O’Donnell moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. to train and compete for the 2008 Olympic Games. Both the Navy and USAT both provide financial backing for his travel and living expenses. O’Donnell is currently ranked 76th in the ITU’s World Cup rankings and is on track to be one of only 10-12 athletes eligible for the U.S.’s three Olympic spots in Beijing. He recently won his fifth-straight U.S. Armed Forces Triathlon national title and earned a spot on the USAT Elite Team at the ITU World Championship in Hamburg in September.

During one of his few free moments of the day, O’Donnell took the time to share his thoughts on his rise through the ranks...
When was your first triathlon?
The 1999 West Point Triathlon. I was a senior in high school and my brother was on the Naval Academy Triathlon Team. He convinced me to come out to the race and give triathlons a shot. I had never run before and I rode a Schwinn from 1987…I was first out of the water and faded quickly from there!

Why did you first enter a triathlon?

My brother Thomas got me into the sport. I did two races in high school for fun but never pursued the sport. When I went to the naval Academy, Thomas was a senior and he made me try out for the team. I had the fast time and made the team…but I didn’t focus on the sport, instead I kept swimming. My sophomore year I went to collegiate nationals and placed 13th with not too much training…that is when I decided to get serious!

When did you turn pro? Why?

I turned pro at the end of the 2003 season. I had won the U23 National Championships that summer and in order to continue my development I needed to race professionally.

What was the most intimidating thing about your first pro race?

The fact that it was a drafting race was the most intimidating. My draft-legal racing experience was limited to U23 races and it was a bit of a shock racing with the big boys.

What surprised you most about racing pro?

The level of intensity really took me off guard…transitions are lightning fast and if you aren’t on your toes, your race is over!

What's the biggest misperception about elites?
Sometimes people think elites are all business all of the time. Elites do work incredibly hard but they also know how to let loose and enjoy their time away from the sport…
Another misconception is that drafting is easier than non-drafting. I have placed among the best at races like Chicago, New York and St Anthony’s and none of them hurt as much as several of the World Cups I have done…the power you need to cover attacks or launch attacks is incredible and it takes its toll on you!

Anything unusual about your triathlon career?

I am in the Navy’s World Class athlete program. I am a Lieutenant in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Community and a qualified Navy Diver. The Navy is supporting my efforts to qualify for 2008 [Olympic Games].
What is your role in the military?
I am attached to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One in San Diego. I am trained in EOD Diving and after 2008 will go to EOD school where I will learn to “render safe” explosive devices including mines in harbors to IEDs in Iraq.

How are you able to balance both the military and elite triathlon?

Sometimes it is really difficult to balance both…when I was at dive school I was doing 10-mile treadmill runs at 9:30 p.m. and then getting up at 5 a.m. to PT with my dive school class. Luckily my command has allowed me to dedicate my time to training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Since you’re currently training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs do you still have day-to-day commitments with the Navy?

Right now I am training fulltime as part of the (triathlon) resident team here in the Springs. I work with the local Navy recruiters and Public Affairs Officers in the area to help promote a positive image for the Navy, but my day–to-day focus is training.

How has triathlon helped in your military career? And, visa versa?
There is a great similarity with triathletes and military members. There is a level of dedication and intensity that is required in both fields. It is no surprise that the sport is extremely popular in the military…how many other sports have a separate division for military members!

What's your advice for amateur triathletes looking to turn pro some day?
Keep working hard and keep your goals in focus.  Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you can’t do it…keep knocking at the gate and someone is bound to open them up…