2015 USA Triathlon Florida Region Inductees presented by Sommer Sports
“We are pleased to announce the First Class of 2015 for induction in the USA Triathlon Florida Region Hall of Fame. Hector L Torres, chair of the USA Triathlon Florida Region, says, “If we were to review the goals and purposes of the Hall of Fame, these four individuals would meet the criteria.
About the USA Triathlon Florida Region Hall of Fame of 2015 Inductees:
Age Group Male – Jon Bonness
In his long and storied career as a triathlete, Joe Bonness , of Naples, Florida, has been the epitome of what an age-gorp triathlete should be. He began competing int he sport of triathlon in 1984, as part of a relay team. His first solo race was in 1988. His first Ironman event was in 1991… a full 140.6 miles. Since those first days in triathlon Joe Bonness has compete in nearly seventeen Kona races and well over 60 Ironman events. He was usually being found on th podium in first place in his age-group at most of those events. In addition to being the owner of his own company he has also been tireless campaigner against the use of performing enhancing drugs in triathlon. At times he has also helped to raise money for various causes through his racing career.
Blair LaHaye, the director of communications for the World Triathlon Corporation said of Joe’s many accomplishments , “It’s super human. I think anyone who’s been racing for years recognized Joe’s accomplishments.”
Age Group Female – Virginia (Ginny) Poyner
Few people in multisport deserve recognition more than Ginny Poyner of Sarasota, Florida. Her long career in multisport began over thirty years. Her first race was all it took. She placed second in the overall female category and she was hooked. According to her, “My big thighs were meant for cycling!”
Ginny has raced in over twenty World Duathlon Championships. At one time she held the world record for competing in the most World Duathlon Championships. She has won several silver medals in competition.
Her multisport career hasn’t all been without problems, however. While training for the Worlds competition slated for Australia in 2005, she was hit by a car and almost killed. For a long time she wore a full back brace and walked with a cane, but she didn’t quit.
The year 2013 was a real challenge. When she suffered multiple mini-strokes and then a heart attack, she learned that genetics cannot be overcome. Unwilling to give up on multisport, however, she continued to race, just slower and with the addition of some walking to her running.
In June 2014, Ginny came in fourth at the 2014 Pontevedra ITU Duathlon World Championships. The next month at the USA Triathlon Duathlon 2014 National Championships she qualified for her twenty-fourth World Championships.
Torn muscles, accidents, diseases, broken bones, and a heart attack have not stopped her from racing. After her 2005 accident, she was asked what multisport has given her. She said, “My sport uncovered the ‘real me’ hidden in this body. I grew up in a time when women weren’t involved in sports. It was considered unladylike to sweat. Now I love it when I pass a young man in a race. It makes me smile and ride even faster.”
Ginny Poyner is a true ambassador for multisport and USA Triathlon. She is a strong role model for girls and women of all ages. Ginny does much more than race. She has been a Level II USA Triathlon Coach, has served as a USAT Certified Race Official for many years and is a member of the USAT National Duathlon committee. Ginny is a member of the Sarasota Storm Triathlon Club.
Contributor – Fred Sommer
Fred Sommer, the CEO of Sommer Sports has been in the multisport business for over three decades. In 1984, he produced his first triathlon in Clermont. That same year he founded the Central Florida Triathletes one of the Sunshine State’s first triathlon clubs. Tim Yount, the Chief Operating Officer of USA Triathlon has called Fred Sommer, “The godfather of triathlon in that part of the country.” Because of Fred’s drive, energy and enthusiasm countless people have become involved in the sport of triathlon and he continues to produce first-class events that attract newbies and people that have been involved in the sport almost from the beginning.
Contributor – Thomas Reilly
It is race day! You have done all of the training necessary to arrive at the race site. Upon arrival you see a man with a black and white striped shirt, wearing khaki pants, a USA Triathlon hat, holding in one hand: a pen and notepad and in the other hand a motorcycle helmet; and last but not least a stop watch hanging around his neck. You may know him as your USAT Official. However, many people do not know the work that goes behind training and educating these officials. In our region we have Thomas Reilly! He has work relentlessly toward the growth of the Triathlon sport without any expectations. In 2006, he represented the Florida Region as our National Board member. Then he joined the Florida region after his service in the NBD. After surviving Cancer and battling chemotherapy, he continued working vigorously towards the development of the triathlon sport and the Officials program.
The Regional Officials program has grown tremendously and there is no other region to compare. He has even traveled to tother regions to help grow their programs as well.