PHUKET: The reputed fastest cyclist in triathlon, Chris Lieto, is heading back to Phuket to compete in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) and Ironman 70.3 this year.
The American hopes to make up for the disappointment of his Phuket debut last year, when he crashed out on a rain-soaked 70.3 bike course.
Renowned as the fastest American Ironman and one of the top professional triathletes in the world, Lieto has recorded 15 major victories, including three Ironman wins, a U.S. Ironman Championship and three Top 10 finishes at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, highlighted by a second-place finish in 2009.
Off the course his “More Than Sport” organisation harnesses the enthusiasm of competing athletes in triathlons around the world to raise funds for local communities where races are held, through website donations, on event registration and hands-on community assistance.
Lieto is hoping to help Laguna Phuket’s “Fully Booked!” mobile library and learning centre project, a collaboration with Phuket Rajabhat University, to raise 2 million baht to create, equip and operate a mobile classroom to visit rural and remote schools in Phuket and neighbouring areas.
Lieto explains why he wants to help give back to the Phuket community.
“I had the privilege to race in Phuket last year and got to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of the people, but I also saw needs of the community as we see everywhere we race,” he said.
“More Than Sport and I are very excited to be coming back to participate in the LPT and Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket – we’re looking forward to excite and enable other athletes to join with us in giving back to the community.
“It’s so important to help young people with reading and education as they are the future, and the future success of Phuket.
“We enjoy this amazing place and racing here as athletes, and we want to give back and hopefully leave something good and lasting when we depart.”
Debbie Dionysius, assistant vice president of Destination Marketing, Laguna Phuket, said: “Chris Lieto and ‘More Than Sport’ make fantastic efforts to create a positive impact in every community where they race.
“We’re especially grateful to them to for seeking to help improve the lives of rural Thai children alongside Laguna Phuket, and we’re asking all our athletes to get on board to support the program.”
Athletes registering online for the LPT and Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket are being asked to contribute to “Fully Booked!” with online sponsorship and direct donations.
Lieto will join other pro athletes and age group racers for more fund-raising activities during the Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest in the week between LPT on Sunday, 25 November and the 70.3 on Sunday, 2 December.
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