Ian O'Brien (left) with U.S. National Team member Eli Hemming.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced its 2018 Coaches of the Year, awarded to Ian O’Brien, Derick Williamson and Christy Lausch. The USA Triathlon high performance staff selected the trio for their accomplishments in coaching national team athletes, paratriathletes and developmental athletes, respectively.
National Coach of the Year: Ian O’Brien
O’Brien, head coach of ORIGIN Performance, coached Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) to a breakout 2018 season on the elite International Triathlon Union (ITU) circuit. Hemming earned his first two career ITU Triathlon World Cup podiums, a career-best 11th-place ITU World Triathlon Series finish, a 16th-place finish at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final as the top U.S. man, two ITU Continental Cup (CAMTRI) victories and a gold medal as part of the U.S. team at the Nottingham ITU World Mixed Relay Series event. For his successes, Hemming was named USA Triathlon’s 2018 Olympic/ITU Male Athlete of the Year.
O’Brien also led Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.) to a fourth-place standing in the 2018 ITU Under-23 rankings, and Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) to the No. 1 spot in the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Rankings. Another ORIGIN athlete, Kevin Bishop (Los Altos, Calif.), represented the U.S. at the 2018 FISU World University Triathlon Championship in Kalmar, Sweden.
Notably, earlier this month, O’Brien coached Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) to a silver at ITU World Triathlon Leeds— the first U.S. men’s medal in an ITU World Triathlon Series event since 2009.
"To be recognized as one of the best elite coaches in the United States is a huge honor, especially with so many talented coaches on the circuit,” O’Brien said.
Paralympic Coach of the Year: Derick Williamson
Williamson serves as head coach of the Toyota USA Paratriathlon Resident Team, which launched in 2018 and is based at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Through his leadership of that program, Williamson coached Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), Hailey Danz (Wauwatosa, Wis.), Howie Sanborn (Denver, Colo.) and Mohamed Lahna (Colorado Springs, Colo.) to notable performances on the ITU elite paratriathlon circuit.
Seely went undefeated in the 2018 ITU World Paratriathlon Series (WPS) en route to winning her third career ITU Paratriathlon world title and being named USA Triathlon’s 2018 Elite Female Paratriathlete of the Year. Danz raced to a world championship bronze medal, three regular-season WPS podiums and a win at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships.
Sanborn’s 2018 season included a runner-up finish at the USA Paratriathlon National Championships and bronze medals at the Magog ITU Paratriathlon World Cup and the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Championships. Lahna earned three top-four finishes in WPS races — including a bronze medal in Iseo, Italy — before placing fourth at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.
"It’s an honor in and of itself to work with our Team USA paratriathletes,” Williamson said. “This recognition is humbling and simply a reflection of the dedication and hard work those athletes put in every day."
Developmental Coach of the Year: Christy Lausch
Lausch is the head coach of Mini Cow Tri/MC Elite, a youth and junior high performance team based in Mount Airy, Maryland. In 2018, she helped guide MC Elite athlete Fielding Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.) to a successful season on the USA Triathlon Junior Elite race circuit, which included a victory at the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championships. Fischer went on to represent the U.S. at the ITU Junior World Championships, placing 14th as the top U.S. man.
Lausch also served as the team coach for the U.S. at the FISU World University Triathlon Championship in Sweden, where Avery Evenson (Brighton, Mich.) secured a silver medal in the women’s event and the U.S. finished fourth in the mixed relay.
In addition, Lausch contributed to the development of USA Triathlon’s top up-and-coming stars by hosting a Youth and Junior Skills Camp in Westminster, Maryland, for the sixth consecutive year. She also served as the camp director for USA Triathlon’s junior women’s camp held last November at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Finally, she worked with Meg Duncan, USA Triathlon’s Youth Program Manager, to refresh the Athlete Development Model (ADM), which aims to promote sustained sport participation and improve the long-term well-being of young athletes.
“I am completely humbled to be recognized by USA Triathlon with this honor given the breadth and depth of coaching talent youth and junior triathletes enjoy today,” Lausch said. “This honor is truly a group effort. I thank every triathlete I have coached along the way, the talented and passionate coaches I’ve learned from and coach alongside, and USA Triathlon for the opportunities to mentor new coaches through coaching education.”
For a listing of all past Coach of the Year honorees, visit usatriathlon.org/aoy.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).