Obscured Origins: Judy Collins and the untold story of how Ironman Triathlon came into being

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


On January 1, 2020 I clicked the email icon on my iPhone. I knew I shouldn’t. It was New Year’s Day. But what I saw was a gift. Someone whom I reached out to in April last year, had emailed. Judy Collins, in a 2000 word poignant essay, delivered a revelation – an untold story about the origins of Ironman triathlon. She explained why that story never appeared in histories of the sport, articulating clearly the steps through which the Ironman Origins narrative had been diverted from the truth she knew. While preparing to add this alternate narrative to the ‘crude website’ she and her husband maintain, an email from me ‘showed up’, reminding her about my research for a woman-centered history of triathlon. The significance of the New Year’s Day email to me, is not simply the new perspective it adds to the Ironman Origins story, but the evidence it offers of the silencing of women’s voices in the articulation of sporting pasts. The obscurity of the perspectives of women in sports mythologies lies at the heart of my project. This paper interrogates the silencing of one voice and draws some implications for readings of sport history more broadly.

Additional information

This paper was originally accepted for the 2020 NASSH Annual Conference, which was cancelled due to Covid-19. It was submitted at the fully virtual NASSH Conference in 2021.
Period30 May 2021
Event titleNorth American Society for Sport History Annual Conference: NASSH Conference
Event typeConference
LocationUnited StatesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational