Jan van Berkel
Jan van Berkel has enjoyed a long and successful triathlon career so far since taking part in his first event back in 1998 at the age of just 12. Today he continues to showcase his prowess at the highest level.
After missing out on qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games in London by a matter of seconds, the Swiss ace decided to focus on the longer distances of the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 circuits.
His first podiums came almost immediately during the 2012 season, as he earned a second-place finish at IRONMAN Switzerland in Zurich and a third at IRONMAN 70.3 Miami.
IRONMAN Switzerland remains Jan’s favourite race, and it is easy to see why. After finishing third in the 2017 race, the Swiss triathlete lifted the title at both the 2018 and 2019 renewals - his first professional victories.
Jan has also competed three times at the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, with a very creditable best of 11th in 2019.
His most painful experience occurred during one of his early attempts at full distance, when he went off far too aggressively. He was unable to run the final 30km and had to walk it instead.
Away from the professional circuit, Jan’s favourite cheat meal is rather specific - six-hour smoked spareribs from his own smoker - while he says he cannot live without olive oil.
Van Berkel hopes to be remembered as someone who never looked down on those who looked up to him, as a hard worker and as a fair competitor. Meanwhile he is not the biggest music fan and prefers silence much more than hearing a song.
The best advice he has received about the sport was from Heiko Salzwedel, who said: “Endurance sports needs endurance, in every aspect,” and the best advice he has had in terms of the race is: "When the gun goes off, the bulls**t stops”.
Athletic talent definitely runs through the van Berkel family as Jan’s sister, Martina, was a Swiss Olympic swimmer who competed at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.