“Yo Yo Yo” Sam Long is mature beyond his years
Sam Long, the young triathlon star from Boulder, Colorado known for his “Yo Yo Yo” salutations, his unblushing “Big Unit” nickname, and his public and positive rivalry with Lionel Sanders qualified for this year’s Ironman World Championships way back in 2019 when he won Ironman Chattanooga, but between May and June of this year, he almost decided to turn down his slot. “I sat down with my coach and said ‘I would rather skip Kona entirely and focus on St. George with what just happened at Tulsa,’ and that’s how Coeur d’Alene was born. I needed to prove to myself that I can compete at an Ironman.” For anyone unfamiliar with triathlon news coverage, Long proved that and more on an historically hot day in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in late June, riding away from Sanders and then dropping the Canadian again on the run, as he went on to record his second Ironman victory and validate (in his own mind) his place at the top of long-distance triathlon.
An Off Day in Tulsa
Tulsa, to wind the clock back a little bit to late May, certainly hadn’t gone badly, but the 13th place finish—even in a championship field—stood out from Long’s consistent climb to the top of results over the past three seasons. “I had a great swim,” Long recalls, “probably my best swim yet in, like, low 52 or something, and I still ran 2:56. Lots of people said things like ‘Sam had a terrible day, but it was still an 8:08 on an off-day in a strong field.” Long had focused on Tulsa, though, as a chance to see where he would finish against athletes he would likely see in Hawaii, and the result shook his confidence.