Following a highly successful seven years in charge, Triathlon Ireland CEO Chris Kitchen has announced his decision to step down from the organisation.
Mr Kitchen will depart from his position in September of this year, with a successor expected to be appointed in the summer to allow for a period of transition.
During his time in charge, Triathlon Ireland has undergone substantial change to become what is now considered a best-in-class national governing body.
Membership grew from 7,600 to almost 19,000; the number of sanctioned events increased from 165 to 200; the number of clubs rose from 67 to more than 100 while the organisation’s operating budget climbed from €1.18M to €2M.
Triathlon Ireland now has one of the highest per-capita participation rates for triathlon in the world and leads globally amongst triathlon national governing bodies in areas such as member services, coach education, governance, marketing, sponsorship and in its commitment to gender balance.
Its elite athletes continue to excel on the international stage and the organisation has built a robust regional development platform with centres of excellence in Dublin and Limerick.
Paying tribute to Mr Kitchen, Triathlon Ireland President Lochlann Walsh said Chris’s passion allied with his commercial acumen helped completely transform Triathlon Ireland.
“Chris has built a team of like minded professionals and empowered them to deliver to our community. I know I speak for all the board and staff that we will miss Chris greatly. On a personal level, he has become a friend to us all. We all wish him every success for the future and we look forward to seeing him at races with his trisuit on rather then his CEO jacket”
Chris Kitchen came to Triathlon Ireland following four decades in the IT sector and a similar amount of time as a triathlete, which included governance roles as a club chairperson and board member of British Triathlon.
But he said his time with Triathlon Ireland was the most enjoyable of his career:
“I have dabbled in many things from Ice Cream Van salesperson to Truck Driver to Planner to IT Salesperson and Company Owner but I have to say that this has been one of the most rewarding and there has not been a single day where I have thought ‘oh no I have to go into work today’; it has been a real pleasure.”
He said being involved in triathlon during a period of such extraordinary growth was a unique experience.
“I was lucky enough to catch one of those 1 in 7 perfect waves and simply managed to ride it. Triathlon has developed globally at a fantastic rate and couple this with the Irish love for sport the growth has been brilliant. Triathlon has moved from being a niche sport to mainstream and the challenge it presents is a key to its success.”
After he steps down, Chris Kitchen will return to the UK to spend more time with his family, but has pledged to remain engaged in the sport of triathlon through his Vice President role in the European Triathlon Union.
“I want to stay in sport and would love to stay in Irish sport too so I’m looking at offering a sports consultancy but also happy to put myself forward for Board positions. I would be keen to stay connected to Triathlon Ireland too, but don’t want to get in the way of the new CEO. Also it would be good to spend a bit more time with my wife and my boys.”
Mr Kitchen continued, “Whilst she is more Irish than me – grandparents for me parents for her – she has stayed in England developing her own career along with my twin boys and their wives/girlfriends so being able to catch up with them a bit more will be good. Plus I have a 1972 Honda 500 Four in bits in my garage and I have been promising to rebuild it for maybe 30 years now so maybe I can get that up and running too. But I will always have a foothold in Ireland,’ said Mr Kitchen.