This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone,...Read More
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Where Are They Now?
It can be argued that without Carl Thomas, triathlon might not be an Olympic sport. As vice president of Speedo USA, Thomas led the company into a sponsorship/ownership of the still-unborn U.S. Triathlon Series in 1981. The USTS was the brainchild of Jim Curl, a UC Berkeley law grad with a passion for endurance sports. Thomas not only embraced Curl’s vision enthusiastically, but expanded upon it. Within a year he was espousing the young sports’ Olympic potential to all who would listen. The following year he teamed up with Curl to form CAT Sports, negotiated a buyout of the USTS from Speedo, and sold title sponsorship of the Series to Anheuser Busch’s Bud Light brand – an association that extended into title sponsorship of the Ironman in Hawaii and did much to enhance the national and international awareness of triathlon.
Throughout the 1980’s Thomas was tireless in his efforts to forge the first European-US triathlon alliance and to promote the sport internationally. Les McDonald of Canada is widely and accurately credited with driving the sport across the Oympic finish line, but Thomas’ early work set the table for McDonalds’s later success.
n inductee of the USAT Triathlon Hall of Fame (2010), Thomas remains active in endurance sports as President and CEO of X-Lab, a San Diego-based manufacturer of waterproof audio accessories.