Timothy O’Donnell makes a strong comeback after heart attack: “Back to Kona”

(Photo: Screenshot YouTube)

It were a crazy couple of years. For America’s Timothy O’Donnell, that wasn’t only because of COVID-19, but more so because he struggled to come back to pro triathlon after he suffered a dangerous heart attack (referred to as the “widowmaker”) at Challenge Miami 2021. On Jun. 12, O’Donnell finally raced an Ironman again: Ironman Des Moines. Although his comeback wasn’t celebrated with a victory, he finished with an amazing third place and therefor a Kona slot. He talks about his race in the video below.

“It’s pretty cool being back out there”, O’Donnell says. “It’s been over 2.5 years since I did an Ironman. It hurt for real… Especially being away for that long, your legs kind of loose that hardening on the legs, especially in the back half of the marathon. But I had a lot of fun. I felt good on the swim and the bike. Swam well, rode really well and then had about 21K of good running, and then it was just carnage for me… It was wheels coming off. I was contemplating what I was doing with my life. Questioning everything.”

He may have suffered those last miles, but the mission was accomplished. “My goal was to get a Kona slot. Luckily, with the swim and the bike part, we had such a big gap to the other guys (15 minutes to the chasers, ed.), so that kind of set me up in a position where I could screw things up – like I did in the back half of the marathon – and still get the slot.”