Sam Holness, Britain’s autistic triathlete from London, is set to compete in the IRONMAN® European Championship triathlon later this month, in another world first.

In 2021, Britain’s Sam Holness made history by becoming the first openly autistic athlete to compete at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, half the distance of an IRONMAN triathlon. He is now taking on double the distance at his first full distance IRONMAN (3.8km swim, 180km bike and full marathon – 42.2km) breaking yet more boundaries as an autistic triathlete.

29-year-old Sam from London, England has been preparing for this landmark moment in the sport for the last three years, as part of his pathway to become the first professional endurance athlete with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Racing in Frankfurt, Germany on June 26, 2022, Sam is also set to become the world’s first openly autistic endurance athlete to compete at the Mainova IRONMAN® European Championship event. Sam is challenging the stereotypes for those with neurodiversity, while tackling one of the world’s toughest endurance sports. Sam is championing and inspiring the autistic community of which there are an estimated 80 million individuals globally. Sam’s autism has proven to be his “superpower” giving him a hyper focussed approach to his training and racing. It makes him unrelenting and not easily distracted.

His coach, and father, Tony Holness said: “He never misses a training session, is on time, unquestioning and hard-working, with a high threshold to push through the ‘pain’. Although the finish line is always at the forefront of Sam’s mind, Sam’s story is also a way to change perceptions of Autism and helping to change the lives of others.”

On his participation at Mainova IRONMAN Frankfurt European Championship Sam said: “I am really excited for my first IRONMAN; I want to give it my best effort and get a great time. More than that, I want to show the world what athletes with autism can do.”

Finishing his first full distance IRONMAN will provide Tony and Sam key learning on the journey to becoming the world’s first openly professional autistic endurance athlete. Beyond inspiring more Neuro-diverse people into sport, Sam also hopes he can inspire more ethnic diversity into the predominantly white endurance sports of swimming, cycling and distance running.

Oliver Schiek, Managing Director of IRONMAN Germany GmbH said: “We are excited to have Super Sam participating in the upcoming Mainova IRONMAN Frankfurt European Championship. Sam encompasses what our events are all about, pushing boundaries and achieving great things by proving that anything is possible. I am excited to see what 2022 has in store for Sam after his remarkable achievement last year of becoming the first openly autistic athlete to compete in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Sam is an inspiration to all of us here at IRONMAN, and I cannot wait to see him race in Frankfurt.”

Following the Mainova IRONMAN Frankfurt European Championship, in October 2022, Sam will do another IRONMAN first for an athlete with ASD by competing at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Sam is an ambassador for Britain’s Ambitious about Autism, who like Sam are redefining how people think about autism.

Follow Sam’s at the Ironman European Championships on Instagram @samholnesstri.