13 February 2024

Medical student becomes pro Ironman triathlete

13 February 2024

A 19-year-old medicine student has just become a professional Ironman triathlete – despite only starting training in 2020.

Matt Kaminer started training after his GCSE exams were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic and has now obtained his Ironman licence.

The University of Bristol student will be continuing his studies while also competing for the prize money on offer.

Mr Kaminer said: “Getting this professional licence has been a dream of mine since starting the sport.

“It is both incredibly exciting, but also very daunting to be able to compete against some of the best athletes in the world.

“I have admired many of them and followed their careers for several years, and I am very proud that I will get the opportunity to be on the start line against them.

“The standard I am now competing at will be a massive step up, but I am excited to give it my best shot and see where it takes me.”

He fits up to 20 hours of training a week around lectures and hospital placements at the University of Bristol.

Remarkably, he only started training when his GCSEs were cancelled during the pandemic. With a cheap road bike from his job at a local bicycle shop, Matt fell into the sport at speed.

“Without GCSEs I had six months of doing nothing. I just ran and rode my bike all the time. Suddenly I realised I was pretty hooked,” he said.

“I had a low period a few years before and that drove me to really pursue stuff, to achieve things and really try my best.

“An Ironman had always been on my bucket list. With med school coming up I just went for it.”

At his first full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile), which was only five weeks after his 18th birthday, Mr Kaminer was the youngest of the 3,000 competitors on the start line. He came sixth overall and first in his age group.

“It was surreal. The organiser said I was the youngest to ever qualify for the Ironman World Championships,” he said.

“Sadly, I couldn’t compete because it clashed with the start of med school.”

Now, with several race wins under his belt, and despite his young age, he has just earnt a professional licence.

He will continue studying at the University of Bristol while competing as a professional for hefty prize pots.

Although he grew up in North London, Matt will be competing for South Africa, which is where his parents are from.

He is now focusing on his first Ironman as a professional: Ironman Lanzarote on May 18.

Mr Kaminer said: “I train 15 to 20 hours a week around my degree. I can’t say I love every swim or getting up early on Sundays for intervals, but I really, really love the sport.

“Doing a medicine degree definitely helps my training – things like the biomechanics of running, how to manage soreness.”

He has recently picked up sponsors, including free coaching and nutrition. He does a lot of his training in his university’s sports facilities.

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