Iden hails impact of lucky Taiwanese hat at Collins Cup

Sporting greats are used to freebies but triathlon star Gustav Iden admits the lucky Taiwanese hat he found on the floor is his secret weapon at the PTO’s Collins Cup. 

Norwegian Iden, the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) world No.2, picked up the black cap with gold writing at the Tokyo 2020 test event before deciding to wear it at the Nice Ironman in 2019 to stand out from his competitors who were clad head to toe in sponsored gear.

Iden raced to victory on that occasion and has reeled off a string of wins while wearing it since, the latest coming at the PTO’s Canadian Open in Edmonton last month where he scooped the top $100,000 prize ahead of Olympic gold medallist Kristian Blummenfelt, his compatriot and training partner.

Now, after helping Team Europe win the inaugural Collins Cup – triathlon’s answer to golf’s Ryder Cup – in 2021, Iden is back in Samorin and gunning for maximum points by finishing six minutes ahead of both Team USA’s Matt Hanson and Team International’s Jackson Laundry in the penultimate of 12 matches.

“I hope the hat will help me get six points, which is always a huge challenge at the Collins Cup, last year it was me and [American] Taylor Knibb that managed to take the full pot,” said 26-year-old Iden.

“If I’m able to do that tomorrow as well that would be huge, so I need all the help I can get. I’ve never lost with the hat on.

“I found it in Japan and started wearing it without knowing what it said, a bit risky but that’s my lifestyle. It’s the name of a temple in Taiwan.

“For me to wear a hat I found on the ground was showing the middle finger to every other pro. ‘I’m going to win the race with no financial support, I’m just going to f*** them up’. That was the thought behind it.”

Iden admits what started as a “childish motivation” has become a real thing after the hat went viral and he was granted honorary citizenship in Taiwan.

He visited the country just before covid hit in an “insane” trip and said he was received like a god at the temple where his cap originates from.

Iden is not shy when it comes to expressing himself, he is conducting this interview in leopard-print budgies fresh from a training swim at the X-Bionic Sphere in Slovakia.

He says he is not looking for extra attention and merely is hooked on the addictive cocktail of triathlon and the buzz of winning, with him and Blummenfelt the top performing men on the circuit this year.

Iden explained: “The point is not to stand out, it’s just to do what I like and if I like something different I will do it. 

“The whole point of my life is to have fun. Triathlon is the most fun sport and winning is the most fun thing in life.

“The feeling of winning a race when you are satisfied with everything you have done is unbelievable. I chase that in my day-to-day life.”

Iden, who wears specialist digital Storm goggles that display live data while swim training, has recovered from the sickness that appeared to strike several of the Canadian Open field and welcomes the stormy Slovakian forecast for Saturday’s showpiece.

He added: “I’ve been training well after a few days of sickness but I’ve been at altitude and then come straight here.

“I’ve noticed the heat but it’s meant to be a bit cooler and the storm will suit me.”

Iden admits the addition of Olympic medallists Flora Duffy and Hayden Wilde to Team International has upped the competition this year but is in no doubt he will emerge on the winning side once again at the $1.5million event.

He said: “The Internationals have stepped up their game especially with the captain’s pick of Flora and Hayden, they are amazing athletes and I know them from short course and I think they will do extremely well.

“But it is going to be hard to beat Team Europe. Just looking at the match-ups, I think we are going to win most of them and some by a big margin, so it is going to be exciting.”

The Collins Cup takes place on Saturday 20 August at the X-Bionic Sphere, Bratislava.  For full listings of how to watch go to https://protriathletes.org/events/how-to-watch

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