Best of 2019: Quotes

By Caryn Maconi | Dec. 16, 2019, 8 a.m. (ET)

stephen meyers interviewing an athlete

With an action-packed calendar of National Championship events, the inaugural Legacy Triathlon, historic performances on the elite ITU circuit and the first Olympic auto-qualifying event for Tokyo 2020, the 2019 season was memorable in countless ways. Here are some of the top quotes spoken by athletes and other members of the multisport community this year:

“For me, ‘full send’ is going so hard that your brain thinks you’re not going to be able to make it to the finish. But you will. When you’re sending it, you’re not thinking about the consequences. You’re thinking about going your hardest, right here and right now.”
— 2018 USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year Justin Lippert on his signature catchphrase 

“We need to see more young people out there racing, especially young girls. To see those girls out there killing it like that is so awesome. I really hope they stick with it. It will be really awesome to watch them and see what they do. I can say ‘I raced them back when.’”
— Age-group star Kirsten Sass on the strength of the young up-and-coming athletes at the Duathlon National Championships

“We’re not just out here to finish the race — we’re out here to be competitors, but also to represent something bigger than ourselves. We’re racing for the overall picture of disabled athletes, and disabled people in general. I love these races in addition to the ITU international races, because it’s fun to still be a high schooler sometimes.”
— Sixteen-year-old Jack O’Neil on competing in the paratriathlon division of the USA Triathlon High School National Championships

“I believe that being a good officer means understanding what it takes to unite a group of individuals via a passion to achieve a common goal. Nothing I have done at the Academy has helped me understand that more than the triathlon team.”
— Curtis Royek of the United States Naval Academy Triathlon Team on his experience as a Midshipman and collegiate club triathlete

“We've been working hard together all season,” Belles said. “We really push each other on our strengths and weaknesses, and we pulled it together last-minute. There were some bumps in the road (during the season), and it all came together today. Seeing each other 1-2-3, especially on the turnarounds was awesome. I think it just encouraged us all to keep going.”
— Hayley Belles of Colorado State University on the sweeping the women’s Olympic-distance podium with her CSU teammates at the USA Triathlon College Club National Championships

“I’ve had five World Cup podiums, but to finally make a statement on the WTS scene is life-changing. It feels amazing, honestly — the best achievement I’ve ever had in my life and in my sport career. It was pretty unpredictable. I think today I just did everything right. The swim, bike, run combo was spot on, and my mindset going into the race was very positive. I’m excited for the future.”
— Matt McElroy after earning silver in a historic performance at ITU World Triathlon Leeds

“I never really feel like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to sit down and read a book.’ I love reading books, but I never take that time. It would just make me feel like a slug.”
— 86-year-old triathlete Molly Hayes on staying active in her daily life

“That was called a sprint, right? But it’s the longest thing I’ve ever done. My races are 21 seconds.”
— Anothy Ervin, Olympic 50-meter swimming gold medalist, after participating in the inaugural Legacy Triathlon in Long Beach, California

“I’ve been racing around the world and wearing the stars and stripes for almost 10 years now,” Huffman said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of places and meet a lot of athletes from all over, and this is just unique. It’s everything I imagined a major Games to be, and more — so to be here with the rest of the Team USA athletes for triathlon and for all the other sports is just incredible, and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity.”
— William Huffman on his experience representing the U.S. at the Pan American Games Lima 2019, where he finished fifth

“It’s been such an incredible experience representing the U.S. here in Lima. Competing in the Pan Am Games has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, so it’s been amazing to actually be a part of it and race with world-class athletes. I feel very honored and proud to have been in the mixed relay with such an incredible team. I’m proud of the effort we all gave the relay today and am so grateful for the unforgettable memories this trip has given me.”
— Austin Hindman on representing the U.S. at the Pan American Games Lima 2019

“So long as you are willing to put in the work, just about anything is possible. The beautiful thing about triathlon is that it has no age limit, and the sport has nothing to do with how far or fast you go. The only thing that really matters is that you go. Triathlon has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The physical benefits are obvious — but to be totally honest, it’s what the sport does for me psychologically that has kept me in the game.”
— Eric Byrnes, former MLB outfielder and current MLB Network Analyst, on the impact triathlon has had on his life

“I think this sport is awesome because a lot of things tie into your regular life. It’s taught me diligence and determination, focus, and pushing through things even when they’re hard. Also, a big part of it is learning to be positive, even when something’s difficult. These races are very difficult, and there will definitely be things in life that are that way too.”
— Eighteen-year-old Kemper Reback of Triton Elite Multisport at the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships

“You’ve always got to lie to yourself a little bit and say you’re feeling better than everyone else,” Bove said. “Obviously, I was hurting. But I just asked myself, ‘What is pain? Does it hurt so bad that I can’t push for just seven more minutes?’ I put a smile on, and I loved every second of it.”
— Eighteen-year-old Davis Bove of Z3 Triathlon Team on his win at the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championships

“I love the sport, the camaraderie and the lasting friendships formed. I love racing. (Age Group Nationals) is the place to shine and do your best, whether it’s the joyfulness of the finish line or the empowering feeling of accomplishing a lifelong goal to race with the best of the best and qualify for Team USA. Racing multisport has enriched my life beyond measure, and I encourage and inspire everyone to tri!” 
— USA Triathlon Ambassador Joni Briganti on why she enjoys participating in the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

“For me, personal fitness is important to my mental health and to my happiness. What I tell folks is, you make it a priority and put the parts of your life that are most important first, and you will always have time to train and compete.”
— U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema after competing at the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

“I don’t think it sunk in at all until my coach told me that I was going to the Olympics. I came very close to leaving the sport last year. I wasn’t racing well — I think there were a few races where I was second- or third-to-last. I just have a lot of pride in really turning things around for myself and staying mentally tough and not giving up when it got difficult, because I really wanted to. I think 12 months ago I wasn’t on anybody’s radar to automatically qualify for the Olympics, not even my own, and I’m just really proud of myself for not giving up.”
— Summer Rappaport after qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event

“The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 was both amazing and nerve-wracking beforehand, because I set myself up so well to get this and I really just didn’t want to mess it up. To have my parents and (my husband) Tommy here, I mean there are so many people who were a part of this and who make it special. When I was on the podium, I was thinking about so many people who I just want to thank for getting me here.”
— Katie Zaferes after winning the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, and earning her first career world title

“I couldn’t help but smile that whole last half-mile when I saw how it was playing out. To be honest, I didn’t know if (a podium at worlds) was ever going to happen again, so it’s a really good feeling. I’m proud that the hard work paid off, and it sets me up to keep at it for another year, so I’m excited for Tokyo.”
— Chris Hammer after winning a bronze medal in the men’s PTS5 division at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships

“Coming in, I think we really wanted to make it 1-2-3. It would’ve been great to be the first one, but the order didn’t matter as much as making sure we got on the podium. Especially on the run, that was the focus — running together and not really attacking each other until the last lap. I’m pretty excited going forward, I think we’ve got some good momentum and hopefully this helps us get three spots to the 2020 Games.”
— Kevin McDowell on earning silver part of a U.S. men’s podium sweep at the Santo Domingo ITU Triathlon World Cup with Matt McElroy (gold) and Morgan Pearson (bronze)

“The people on my tri team, we’re not just a team — we’re a family too. We do everything together. We train together, eat together, do homework together. People can definitely be very hardcore about it because it is an intense sport, but when you get together with a group of girls like these, you can’t help but have fun.”
— Abigail White of Colorado Mesa University on the women’s collegiate triathlon student-athlete experience