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photo: Paul Phillips
USA Triathlon Inducts Five Multisport Icons into Hall of Fame
CHICAGO — USA Triathlon recognized five stellar multisport contributors and athletes at the 2014 USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom.
Nearly 300 multisport dignitaries, friends and family members gathered to honor Ironman co-founders John and Judy Collins, elite athlete Mike Pigg, age-grouper Sister Madonna Buder and contributor Tom Warren.
“The 2014 Induction Ceremony was one of the most exciting, entertaining and extremely special ceremonies — and I’ve been to every one,” said Jon Gray Noll, the chair of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Committee and Class of 2008 inductee. “This is a real tribute to the individuals who have contributed so much over the years to make triathlon the sport it is today."
The annual Hall of Fame ceremony kicked off an exciting weekend of triathlon, which continues through Sunday with ITU World Triathlon Chicago. BP America served as the Presenting Sponsor of the Welcome Reception, which included a Q&A with aspiring Olympians and Paralympians.
"For more than 100 years, BP and its heritage companies have been part of the fabric of Chicago and we are honored to sponsor ITU World Triathlon's Chicago debut,” said Luis Sierra, president of BP Chemicals. "We're equally proud to sponsor tonight's celebration of the inspiring accomplishments of the sport's legends."
Paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell led off a compelling set of speakers as the evening’s keynote. Stockwell spoke of the positive impact of sport — especially on those with disabilities — and recognized the contributions of the evening’s inductees.
Inductee Tom Warren (San Diego, Calif.), who was unable to attend, has been involved with the sport from the early days in the 1970s. As the winner of the 1979 Ironman Hawaii, he was featured in the pivotal feature in Sports Illustrated, written by Barry McDermott, which helped inspire a generation to participate in the sport.
“Tommy was the pied piper. He was the reason all of us got into the sport,” said Class of 2011 inductee Bob Babbitt, who accepted the award on Warren’s behalf.
“I want to thank USA Triathlon for this honor,” Warren said via a video acceptance speech. “I can’t believe how far triathlons have come since I started.”
Class of 2010 inductee Dave McGillivray introduced Pigg, who enjoyed a 17-year career in the sport as an elite triathlete. Known for his cycling prowess, Pigg (McKinleyville, Calif.) dominated Olympic-distance racing in the U.S. for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“It’s a great honor because I gave 17 years of my life to something I really loved to do,” Pigg said. “Triathlon gave me a gift that I’ll never forget.”
Buder spoke of overcoming her recent challenges, which include a fractured pelvis, in her quest to break down another age barrier for women in the sport. She has captured nearly 30 world championship titles between Olympic-distance and Ironman events, and plans to race in Kona again this fall.
“I’m very floored,” Buder said. “I did not, even in my wildest dreams, ever think about this. I know there are so many other worthy women who are deserving.”
Creators of the Ironman Triathlon in 1978 in Hawaii, John and Judy Collins (Coronado, Calif.) served as race directors of the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii in 1978-79. Both competed in the first-ever triathlon in the U.S. in San Diego in 1974 along with their 12- and 13-year-old children.
“It’s a huge honor,” Judy Collins said. “To be recognized by the Governing Body of the sport of the U.S. is the pinnacle that means a great deal to us.”
“Any important event doesn’t happen by itself. … It is an honor to have been one link in that chain and we thank you for recognizing that,” John Collins said.
The USA Triathlon Hall of Fame was founded in 2008, and this year’s class brings the total number of inductees to 27. Visit usatriathlon.org/hof for more information on the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame.