Chris Lieto, the American reputed to be the fastest cyclist in triathlon, is headed to Phuket on a double mission – to burn up the Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) and Ironman 70.3 courses, and fire up the resort’s new charity fund-raising project.
On the race courses, he aims to make up for the disappointment of his Phuket debut last year, when he crashed out on a rain-soaked 70.3 bike course.
But off the courses he’s using the resources of his worldwide More Than Sport athlete fund-raising organisation to boost Laguna Phuket’s “Fully Booked!” mobile library and learning centre project in collaboration with Phuket Rajabhat University.
Renowned as the fastest American Ironman and one of the top professional triathletes in the world, Lieto has recorded 15 major victories including three Ironman wins, a U.S. Ironman Championship and three top 10 finishes at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, highlighted by a second-place finish in 2009.
His More Than Sport organisation harnesses the enthusiasm of competing athletes in triathlons around the world to raise funds for local communities where races are held through website donations on event registration, and hands-on community assistance.
Now More Than Sport is supporting Laguna Phuket to help raise the THB 2 million required by “Fully Booked!” to create, equip and operate a mobile classroom to visit rural and remote schools in Phuket and neighbouring areas.
Athletes registering online for LPT and Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket are being asked to contribute to “Fully Booked!” with online sponsorship and direct donations.
And Lieto will join other pro athletes and age group racers for more fund-raising activities during the Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest in the week between LPT on Sunday 25 November and the 70.3 on Sunday 2 December.
He set up More Than Sport to give triathletes a way to improve the lives of children and their communities at race venues around the world.
“I had the privilege to race in Phuket last year and got to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of the people, but I also saw needs of the community as we see everywhere we race,” he said.
“More Than Sport and I are very excited to be coming back to participate in LPT and Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket – we’re looking forward to excite and enable other athletes to join with us in giving back to the community.
“It’s so important to help young people with reading and education as they are the future, and the future success of Phuket.
“We enjoy this amazing place and racing here as athletes, and we want to give back and hopefully leave something good and lasting when we leave.”
Debbie Dionysius, Assistant Vice President of Destination Marketing, Laguna Phuket, said: “Chris Lieto and More Than Sport make fantastic efforts to create a positive impact in every community where they race.
“We’re especially grateful to them to for seeking to help improve the lives of rural Thai children alongside Laguna Phuket, and we’re asking all our athletes to get on board to support the programme.”
The “Fully Booked!” project – aims to provide alternative learning resources for children from kindergarten to primary school ages and their teachers in rural areas of Phuket and Phang Nga provinces for a five-year period beginning in the 2013 academic year.
Housed in a custom-built vehicle, the mobile centre will be stocked with educational books and staffed by student teachers from Rajabhat University, who will teach literacy courses as well as lessons on healthy living.
It will also be equipped with computers and multimedia equipment to give children access to technology and web-based learning materials
Donations can be made by creating a fund-raising page at http://morethansport.org/index.php/phuket-campaign by clicking the Crowdrise button; or directly at http://www.lagunaphuket.com/donate-CSR or http://morethansport.org/index.php/phuket-campaign by clicking the donate button.