SBJ/Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Wendling looks to keep momentum at USA Triathlon

Spotlight: Bob Wendling

Age: 58
New title: President, board of directors, USA Triathlon
Previous title: Treasurer and Mid-Atlantic representative, USA Triathlon board
First job: Washington Post paperboy
College education: B.A., economics, Indiana University (1973); M.A., economics, George Washington University (1976)
Resides: Springfield, Va.
Executive most admired: Jack Welch,
former General Electric chairman and
chief executive officer
Brand most admired: Asics
Favorite vacation spot: British Virgin
Islands
Last book read: My own, “The Impending World Energy Mess”
Last movie seen: “The Girl Who Played With Fire” (Swedish version)
Favorite musician/band: UB40, Jimmy
Buffett, or anything reggae

Bob Wendling started participating in triathlons in 1986 and by 1989 had become a certified official. In 1992, he helped form the USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Regional Council and in 2008 joined the USAT board of directors, where he has recently become president. Outside the sport, Wendling serves as vice president of Management Information Services, an economic consulting company he co-founded in 1986. He spoke with staff writer Brandon McClung.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
We’ve had such tremendous growth over the last couple of years. The sport has been growing at over 15 percent every year over the last 10 years. It is going to be a matter of keeping that momentum up.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
There are a lot of IT opportunities in the industry and there is also already an entrepreneurial spirit. We have a lot of small companies that have married IT products with useful sports equipment, so there is a lot of opportunity there. The advice I would give is to spend a couple of years working with someone within the industry and then possibly branch out and make a contribution.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Co-founding my economic and energy consulting firm. … To be able to keep a company up and running, start hiring employees and grow a business, it’s a real accomplishment.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
Drugs, drugs, drugs. Triathlon is an endurance sport and there are drugs that will help competitors improve their performance. Just last year we started an educational program for our members, and at our national championship we had our first drug testing for competitors.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
We wrestle with the issue of pushing our kids too quickly into competition and putting too much pressure on them. It creates a stressful environment. We are trying to take a step back, let the kids have fun, make the races fun and provide medals to everyone.

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