Top Tris - 50 Countries wrap-up

As this series picking the best triathletes of 50 countries concludes, here are the best triathletes from the 41st through the 50th.

Switzerland presents another dilemma in naming just one greatest triathlete.

Switzerland had three highly qualified men included two Oliviers and a Sven but were not among the top three. Olivier Marceau won the 2000 ITU Olympic distance World Championship, placed 3rd at 2003 ITU Olympic distance Worlds, and was 2nd at 2004, 2006 and 2007 XTERRA Worlds. In the Olympics Marceau was 7th in 2004 and 8th in 2008. Olivier Bernhard won the Powerman Zofingen Duathlon 8 times, Ironman Switzerland 5 times, won the 1994 Almere Iron-distance Triathlon and placed 5th at the 1999 Ironman World Championship capped off with a 2:41:57 fastest run. Sven Riederer won bronze at the 2004 Olympics, was 23rd at the 2008 Olympics and 8th at the 2012 Olympics. He was also 2nd at the 2011 WCS Grand Final.

Nicola Spirig will never be forgotten for her stirring duel with Lisa Norden at the 2012 Olympics which she won by 2 inches. Daniela Ryf will be adding to her sterling record for years to come and already ranks a close second among all Swiss triathletes for her 1st at the 2015 Ironman World Championship, 1st at the 2014 and 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, 1st at 2015 Ironman Frankfurt, 1st to win the $1 million prize for the 2015 Nasser Bin Hamad Triple Crown.

But above all these worthies, Switzerland’s best is Natascha Badmann. She is a 6-time Ironman World Champion (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005) and two time runner-up (1996 and 2003). She won the 1997 ITU Long Distance Worlds, the 1995 ITU Duathlon Worlds and she won Powerman Zofingen twice. Perhaps her greatest victory came after surviving a brutal crash in the 2007 Ironman World Championship which required several operations and a long and painful recovery. In 2012 at South Africa, she became the oldest woman to that point -
at 45 years and 138 days - to win an official Ironman.

Syria has been a most unlikely place to train for the last five years of bitter warfare that has accompanied a violent uprising against its president. But in the first decade of the 21st century, Omar Tayara, a Spanish-born man who became a Syrian citizen in 2006, was Syria’s best triathlete.

In 2008 Tayara was 49th at the ITU Vancouver Olympic distance Worlds and 49th at the 2008 Olympics. His best non-World Championship level performances were 3rd at the 2006 ITU Pan American Cup in Roatan, 4th at the 2006 ITU Asian Cup in Singapore and 4th at the ITU Asian Cup in Subic Bay.

Taiwan competes in the Olympics under the Chinese Tapei Olympic flag. While maintaining self-rule, the prosperous and independent island once known as the Republic of China was removed from the United Nations in 1971 under pressure from the mainland government of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan’s best and most accomplished triathlete is Shiao-Yu Li who won Ironman Japan in 2013 and 2014 and won Ironman 70.3 Japan in 2015. In 2010, she won her 30-34 age group in Ironman China and qualified for the Ironman World Championship where she also placed 3rd in 30-34 and was 31st woman overall.

As the founding nation of triathlon, the United States dominated the early years of triathlon with long course stars like 6-time Ironman Hawaii winner Dave Scott, two-time Ironman Hawaii winner Scott Tinley and 1988 Ironman Hawaii champion Scott Molina, who also won the Ultraman World Championship, Powerman Zofingen, six USA Triathlon professional championships and 104 professional victories. Tim DeBoom continued that winning tradition with victories at the 2001 and 2002 Ironman World Championship.

U.S. women have also maintained a high level of performance in international competition, including ITU Olympic distance world champions Siri Lindley (2001), Sheila Taormina (2004) and Susan Williams, America’s only Olympic medal winner (bronze in 2004).

Two U.S. women have reached a higher level, demanding consideration not only as the best in U.S. triathlon history but among the best women triathletes in the world.

Karen Smyers won gold at the 1990 ITU Olympic distance World Championship and silver in 1993. She scored an unmatched double in 1995 as the ITU Olympic distance World Champion and Ironman World Champion. She was also a silver medalist at the 1994 and 1999 Ironman World championship and won gold at the 1996 ITU Long Distance Worlds and conquered the Pan American Games in 1995 and 1999.

Current star Gwen Jorgensen won the 2014 and 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series championship. She also earned a record-setting 16 total ITU World Triathlon Series wins, including a record streak of 13 straight WTS events which included two Grand Finals and the Rio Olympic test event.

But standing alone as the greatest United States triathlete is Mark Allen.

The man they call The Grip and the Zenmaster won the Ironman World Championship six times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995) placed 2nd twice (1986, 1987) and won the inaugural ITU Olympic distance World Championship in 1989. He also won the Nice International Triathlon 10 straight times and had a 20-race win streak from 1988 into 1990.

The greatest triathlete from Ukraine is Viktor Zymtsev who has won 12 Ironman titles and the 2005 ITU long distance Worlds. Zyemtsev won Ironman Coeur d’Alene three times, Ironman Austria three times, Ironman Canada twice, and has also won Ironman Louisville and Ironman Lake Placid.

Ukraine’s next best triathlete is Yulia Yelistratova, who was 1st at the 2015 Alanya ITU World Cup, 1st at the 2014 Madrid ETU European Cup, 2nd at the 2014 Edmonton ITU Aquathlon Worlds, 2nd at the 2014 Istanbul ETU European Cup, 2md at the 2014 Istanbul ETU European Cup and 24th at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The greatest triathlete from b>Venezuela is Gilberto Gonzalez whose supreme triumph was winning gold at the 1999 Pan American Games. He also won the 1998 Cancun ITU World Cup, the 1998 Noosa World Cup and took 2nd at the 2000 Toronto World Cup. In Olympic competition, Gonzalez took 37th at the 2000 Games in Sydney and 36th at the 2004 Games in Athens.

Paula Newby-Fraser is the greatest triathlete ever to represent Zimbabwe. While she was born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), grew up in South Africa and has been an American citizen since 1996, Newby-Fraser won Ironman Hawaii representing Zimbabwe five times (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992) and representing the USA in 1993, 1994, 1996. Her 8 Kona victories are two better than Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Natascha Badmann and earned her the nickname “The Queen of Kona.” Her 8:55:28 women’s Kona record time set in 1992 lasted 17 years. Her 8:50:28 women's world best Ironman time set at Ironman Germany in 1997 lasted 11 years. Over 12 years, Newby-Fraser won 21 of 26 Ironman races she entered around the world and dozens of shorter races as well. By the end of her career, she won 25 Ironman events.

Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus region bordered by the Caspian Sea, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. With a population of 9 million, it was a member of the Soviet Union, and attained independence in 1991. Azerbaijan is a world chess powerhouse, loves soccer, and has strong participation in wrestling, volleyball, weightlifting and boxing. But until Rostyslav Pevtsov came along, triathlon was virtually unknown. Pevtsov is the greatest triathlete of Azerbaijan. Now 28, he has achieved some very promising international results. Powered by a 30:14 10k run in Olympic distance triathlon, he was 4th at the 2016 Mooloolaba World Cup, 11th at the 2015 WTS Grand Final in Chicago, 2nd at the 2015 Chengdu World Cup, 2nd at the 2014 Tiszaujvaros World Cup, and 3rd at the 2011 Antalya World Cup.

Costa Rica can boast of its one best triathlete – Leonardo Chacon - who has been competing internationally since 2002. Chacon was 48th at the 2012 London Olympics and 5th at the 2007 Pan American Games. He was 8th at the 2015 ITU Cozumel World Cup, 9th at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games, and won several Pan American Cup events.

Athletes from Jamaica have earned 17 gold, 30 silver and 19 bronze medals in athletics in the Olympic Games. Jamaica’s best triathlete has a more modest competitive résumé but Iona Wynter made her presence known during a four year period at the dawn of the third millennium.

In 1996, she was 10th at the Auckland World Cup, 17th at the Sydney World Cup and 18th at the Noosa World Cup. In 1999 she was 1st at the Aruba PATCO Central American and Caribbean Championship and 13th at the Winnipeg Pan American Games. In 2000, she was 16th at the Corner Brook World Cup and 34th at the 2000 Olympic Games.