Marten Van Riel who?

Last week, on Thursday, Aug. 18, the men's triathlon at the Olympics in Rio was held. One year ago I never would have even considered following this live...let alone even care about the results afterward. Fast forward one year, well really four years, and my morning was spent following live tweets about the race (stupid NBC and not allowing live viewing of events that aren't on NBC).

Being patriotic, I was definitely following the United States triathletes. Keeping it real...there was a triathlete I was following that is from a country other than the United States. That triathlete would be from Belgium. His name is Marten Van Riel.
You may be asking...Who? What? How? Let me explain.  I started re-establishing my presence on Instagram at the beginning of July. It really ramped up when I brought my training partner Hello Kitty into my triathlon training. Then I got a like from Marten on this picture:
I thought, "Hey, this is kind of cool!" He's from Belgium. I've been to Belgium (back in the summer of 1985 for a day). There were a few more likes from him on pictures, but I still did not realize who he really is.

Early last week there was a post on Instagram about a live chat with Marten. It mentioned something about the Olympics. I still didn't process the connection. Then on Wednesday, the day before the men's triathlon competition, it all processed...


I told Merrill. I told M1, G and M2. I told coworkers. Everyone thought this was really cool. An Olympic triathlete was taking the time to like my posts. I am sure it was becasue Hello Kitty was featured in all of them.

The day of the triathlon came and like I said, I followed right along. Marten was in the lead pack for all of the race. I believe he may have even been in the lead at one point.  It was a lot of fun to follow along with his status. For his first Olympic triathlon, he finished in sixth place. That is pretty incredible considering how difficult the course was and that there were a total of 55 other triathletes competing.

Afterwards, Hello Kitty posted on Instagram saying how proud of him she was. What happened next blew me away. Having just competed and I am sure completely wiped out, Marten replied to the post. This impressed me so much. He didn't need to do that for someone that he has never interacted with before. That showed a lot of class on his part.  All three girls said, "Cool!"
Needless to say, Marten Van Riel has a fan base here in North Carolina. I know that when the 2020 Olympics come around, He will be participating in them. Until then, I will follow all his competitions and cheer him on from here.

Sometimes, it's the little things that people do that have the most impact. Maybe someday there will be the opportunity to meet this fine athlete and gentleman.

Thank you, Marten Van Riel! May all your competitions be a success and I look forward to following along. Visit his Instagram page to see more about him.


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