Today, the Pho3nix Foundation announced their partnership with the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) for the Sub7 Sub8 Project.
Here's an excerpt from the press release:
Pho3nix and the PTO share a common goal to support and elevate professional triathletes, placing them on the world stage, along with providing new and creative formats and events to capture global attention. Through the Sub7 Sub8 Project, the Pho3nix Foundation aims to inspire young people to challenge themselves through sport by showing that all goals are worth chasing. As the not-for-profit representative body for non-drafting professional triathletes, the PTO will provide invaluable support as Pho3nix strives to connect fans and supporters with these incredible athletes, as they attempt to #DefyTheImpossible.
“I’m a big supporter of the PTO as an organisation and how it has given professional triathletes a sense of ownership over the direction of their sport,” says Chris McCormack, Pho3nix Foundation board member and CEO of Mana Sports and Entertainment. “The PTO and the Pho3nix Sub7 Sub8 Project share a desire to elevate the sport and create a new standard for the next generation. Along with adding depth to the opportunities for the top echelon of athletes who give up so much to compete on this level, it will also drive engagement among younger people. It’s what gets them into sport, seeing and aspiring to be like these great athletes.”
Professional Triathletes Organisation CEO Sam Renouf said, “The PTO fully support the Sub7 and Sub8 Project by the Pho3nix Foundation which will help not only highlight the amazing accomplishments of our professional athletes but raise awareness to a wider fan base. Compelling storytelling which showcases the personalities, as well as the accomplishments of our amazing PTO athletes, will help leverage the excitement and drama of our sport to attract a wider and younger audience. We wish all our PTO Professionals the best of luck.”
Apart from putting money towards prize pots in races and running their own events like the Collins Cup, the PTO itself has some formidable media resources beginning with the content they've produced around the PTO Championship, the Collins Cup, and promotional material around the professional athletes.
Also, if you haven't scoped it out yet, the new PTO stats website seeks to be an all-encompassing resource for long-course professional start lists and results, basic athlete info (such as biography and sponsors), world rankings, and up-to-date statistics. Did you know they've actually compiled data to produce athlete head-to-head results? As someone who used to follow tennis obsessively this was an amazing feature on the ATP and WTA websites, and I'm so happy it's something that's finally a thing in triathlon.
The PTO supporting the SUB7 SUB8 can only make following this journey richer. It's great to see them recognise how the project can and will absolutely put triathlon in front of a wider audience, something that both PTO and Pho3nix want to do.
Chris McCormack also released an editorial today commenting on the partnership with the PTO. He wrote:
I have always been of the opinion that a sport has entered the big league when it is able to support its professional athletes with the means to make a living from competing. While triathlon was built on mass participation, there is a need to add some depth to the opportunities for the top echelon of professional athletes, who dedicate themselves full time to compete at that level.
A lot of people — myself included — thought the Professional Triathletes Organisation at its outset was an audacious undertaking, but I think the direction is the right one to go in.
Our alignment with the PTO is in building the professional arm of the sport and shift it from a participation sport to a spectator sport, to make it interesting and give it more commercial viability. That requires new formats for races, and initiatives like Sub7 Sub8 for the professionals that can be packaged in an entertaining way for broadcast. Equally important is the long-form storytelling of our athletes journey’s to get the public engaged as fans and inspire the next wave of elite athletes.
World Triathlon is an Olympic, federation-driven model, and they do a great job in keeping kids on an Olympic path. But beyond that and prior to Super League Triathlon on the short-course side and the PTO on the long-course side, there just wasn’t much growth in the way of supporting professional athletes.
So we are completing the circle from a high-performance perspective. Pho3nix Foundation aims to inspire and sow the seeds for the next generation of young, talented stars to come through. They feed into World Triathlon and Super League Triathlon racing, and they can age into a long-course career with the opportunities the PTO presents.
The SUB7 SUB8 is shaping up to be an even more tantalising story to watch unfold. As a triathlon fan, I am HERE. FOR. IT.