By Barry Janoff
April 22, 2014: On the heels of the news that Michael Phelps, the most decorated U.S. gold medalist in Olympic history, was coming out of retirement to again compete in swimming, comes word that Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. gold medalist in Winter Olympic history, is also unretiring.
The difference is that Ohno, who proved his mettle on the ice in speed skating, is undertaking "Mission Apolo Built with Chocolate Milk" to train for and then compete in the Ironman World Championship triathlon — a 140.6-mile swim-bike-run endurance event scheduled to take place this October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
The Built with Chocolate Milk platform operates under the auspices of the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which is part of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C. (funded by the nation's milk processors). Tag line, "Got chocolate milk?"
The Built with Chocolate Milk effort is the "official refuel beverage of the Ironman triathlon series, as well as sports organizations and teams including the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, USA Hockey and Women’s Ski Jumping USA.
The 31-year-old Ohno, who retired from speed skating competition following the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, won eight Olympic medals, including two gold (2002 Salt Lake City, 2006 Turin) and 21 medals in World Championships, including eight golds.
His training efforts will be supported by a multi-media effort, anchored by an eight-episode online documentary series that will show his "highs and lows as he builds from short-course competitor to a long-course endurance athlete."
"I still have no idea why I said yes to competing and taking on this challenge," Ohno admits in the trailer that launches the marketing. "I have no idea what I'm getting myself in to. This is a ridiculous decision. So much work. I'm not afraid of the work, but this is a different type of race and training. I am going to go up against some of the world's elite of the elite." (See the full spot here.)
Ohno has challenged himself in other ways. In 2011 he ran a 3:25 in the New York City Marathon. In 2007, he and partner Julianne Hough won Season 4 of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, then made a return visit in 2012 (where he was eliminated).
Ohno will be assisted in his Ironman quest from a group of "coaches" who include Jen Ator, fitness director for Women’s Health magazine; and former NFL all-pro and Super Bowl champion Hines Ward, who finished the 2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship in 13:08.
According to Andrew Messick, CEO for Ironman, “This program introduces the sport of triathlon to an even larger audience and inspires people to show them that 'Anything is Possible.' We are excited to see what Apolo is capable of doing. His athletic background, commitment to competition and eagerness to immerse himself in triathlon makes him a great ambassador for our sport.
Like Phelps, Ohno has a marketing deal with Subway.
"It's humbling to be a new kid on the block in a sport I am not used to," Ohno says in the campaign's introduction video. "I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for endurance athletes. Where do I go when I have no more left? We're going to find out."
Back to Home Page