By Angela Higginbotham
Winston Allen’s passion for sports has remained a constant throughout his life. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Allen became interested in athletics when he was only nine years old. Being of a smaller build than many of his peers, he subsequently found an interest in gaining strength through exercise. Allen’s stamina and charisma have been an inspiration for athletes around the globe.
Allen became an avid swimmer in high school and began his collegiate career at Ohio State University. While he enjoyed the time spent at Ohio State as a pre-law major, his stay there was short.
“I was a little fish in a big pond. I wanted to be a big fish in a little pond,” Allen said.
In 1950, Chicago’s Depaul University started their diving and swimming program and Allen was granted a full scholarship. After graduation Allen was drafted into the Korean War and decided that his career interests lay with the Air Force. While serving in the military, Allen trained for the 1952 and 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials. In 1956, he became the first Air Force springboard diving coach.
In order to support his family, Allen took a break from sports and started a career with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. His career took his family to Japan. At the end of his Air Force service, Allen was hired by the IRS for his investigative experience.
In 1983, Allen felt he was at a place in life where he could focus more on his training and he competed in his first triathlon that year. While still busy with work and family, he devoted time each day to training. Allen retired at 60 years old and decided to work harder on his athletics in his newfound free time.
In 1991, at the vibrant age of 61, Allen competed in his first Ironman Hawaii competition. The competition consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. This challenge took him 17 hours to complete. Allen has thus far competed in 13 Ironman events. He holds the title of the 2005 Ironman Brazil champion and has finished in third place five times in other Ironman competitions.
“It’s really who I am. The Ironman competitions took a lot of discipline and commitment,” Allen said.
Four World Championship titles contribute to Allen’s extensive resume. Allen won the 2007 Lorient World Championships in France and also the 2011 Beijing, China World Championships. In 2015, Allen was the ITU World Championship sprint distance winner in Chicago. His most recent win came in September 2016 at the Cozumel, Mexico, ITU World Championships. He finished with an impressive time for his age group (85-89), 02:22:04.
Allen has already qualified for his next competition to be held in November of 2017. He will travel to the Netherlands to do what he loves and is excited for the challenge. His efforts will be in sprint distance: a 750-meter swim, followed by a 14-mile bike ride and finishing with a 5K run.
“I couldn’t have ever done any of this without my wife,” Allen said without hesitation.
Although she is no longer with him physically, Allen and his wife raised a son and daughter who are also accomplished athletes. Allen’s son accompanies him now to events all over the world.
Allen and his wife moved from Ohio to the warmth of St. Johns County in 2005. Now a resident of the World Golf Village’s Glenmoor community, Allen enjoys the weather and pleasant training atmosphere that this area has to offer.
“There’s not much traffic out here and the roads are nice and wide. There’s a lot of space. The pool is nice and the exercise facility is good. I try to encourage and motivate my friends around here. I try to set a good example,” Allen said.
Although training for triathlons does consume most of his time, Allen also enjoys following the stock market and reading. With a second knee replacement on the calendar, Allen remains insistent that it is never too late to do anything that you want to do.
Photo courtesy Winston Allen
Winston Allen stands by his many medals.