Lucas Verzbicas (USA) – The next big thing : An exclusive interview.

Lucas Verzbicas (USA) : The Next Big Thing in Triathlon


Lucas was born on  January 6, 1993, in Kaunas, Lithuania. He moved to the US with his mother and stepfather at age nine.

The family lived in Orland Park, Illinois where Verzbicas attended Carl Sandburg High School, graduating in May 2011.

Lucas  graduated at age 18 after attending high school for just 3 years

His mother Rasa was a top runner in Lithuania and once held the national record in the 3k

His first triathlon was the 2004 McDonald’s Kids Triathlon in Chicago. He saw an add for the race while out for burgers with his family and “it all started from there”

His proudest moment in triathlon was winning the 2011 World Junior Championship in honor of friend Kevin McDowell.

Athletic Background

He is one of the most decorated prep runners in U.S. history at Carl Sandburg High School.  He was named the National High School Cross Country Athlete of the Year as a sophomore and junior (he graduated early and bypassed his senior year)

He set national high school records for the outdoor two-mile and the indoor 5,000 meters He was just the fifth high school runner ever to break the four-minute mile mark

He attended the University of Oregon on a running scholarship in the Fall of 2011 before deciding to relocate to Colorado Springs and dedicate himself to full time to triathlon training.


Amateur Triathlon Career Highlight

He was selected as USA Triathlon’s Junior Athlete of the Year in 2011

H won gold at the 2011 ITU Junior World Championships in Beijing, China, to honor friend and teammate Kevin McDowell, who was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma

He also won the 2011 USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship and the PATCO Pan American Junior Championship titles

H was placed fourth at the 2010 ITU Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He was the winner of the 2009 ITU Junior Duathlon World Championships in Concord, N.C.


Career Highlights

  • 2012 Banyoles ITU World Cup Champion
  • 2011 ITU Junior World Championships Gold Medalist
  • 2011 USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Champion
  • 2011 USA Triathlon Junior Athlete of the Year
  • 2009 ITU Junior Duathlon World Championships Gold Medalist

2012 Highlights

  • Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2016 program
  • Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2016 program
  • Finished the year ranked as the No. 5 American and 76th overall in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings
  • Saw rookie season come to an end with a July 31 bike crash on a training ride
  • At the sprint-distance Tiszaujvaros ITU World Cup, placed sixth in the final July 15 after winning his semifinal round July 14
  • Finished 32nd overall and recorded the day’s second-fastest run split (30:35) in his ITU World Triathlon Series debut at the ITU World Triathlon Kitzbühel on June 24
  • Won his ITU World Cup debut June 17 in Banyoles, Spain
  • Recorded the day’s fastest run split of 30:55 to claim victory and become the youngest U.S. athlete to win an ITU World Cup
  • Earned his first career elite victory with a win at the June 2 Dallas ITU Pan American Cup
  • Pulled away on the run to finish more than a minute clear of the field in Dallas
  • Made his elite debut at the Jan. 13 PATCO Pan American Championships in La Paz, Argentina, but withdrew from the race with a shin injury.


Interview : Giannis Psarelis (Email

Triathlon World : When did you start doing sports?

Lukas Verzbicas : I have been athletic from the day I was born. My parents were both track & field coaches, and I grew up on the track with them. I started competing seriously at 11 when I got my introduction into multisport at the McDonald’s Kids Triathlon.


Triathlon World : Your mother has been a Lithuanian record holder at 3000meters. How great was her influence on your sports career.

Lukas Verzbicas : She thought me everything I know about running, competing and living as an elite athlete. This kind of influence from the start helped me build a foundation for the years to come, which made me into an elite athlete at such a young age.


Triathlon World : Who was your running coach that has helped you to break the 4 minutes barrier and to hold the 2miles record? Could you describe a typical training week period as you have prepared yourself for these achievements?

Lukas Verzbicas : My father has been coaching me since I started sports. At that time I was coming off a monthly triathlon base building period and took two weeks before those track races to concentrate solely on running. I was primarily speed training during that time — running intervals on the track and fartleks on the roads, as well as lots of plyometric training such as hurdle jumps to feel the fastest I can.

Triathlon World : What are your PR in running? Have you ever run a 5K or 10K in a track. If yes what were your times?

Lukas Verzbicas : I only ran 5k indoors (14:06) and 10k only in a triathlon (30:30 Kitzbuhel WTS HILLY COURSE)


Triathlon World : When did you start practicing swimming and how have you achieved to develop yourelf in this sport?

Lukas Verzbicas : I didn’t know how to swim until my father thought me at 10, and starting at 11 I joined a swim team. There I learned all the biomechanics and stroke technique. I further enhanced my swimming ability over the last two years by working with a swimming specialist at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.


Triathlon World : What is typical day for you?

Lukas Verzbicas : A typical training day includes two swims (around 3k each) in the morning and evening, and one hard run or bike and one easy run or bike.

Triathlon World : What is a typical weekly schedule for you during the base period?

Lukas Verzbicas : Three days hard like described above, one day recovery with an easy swim and bike or run, or depending how I feel a total day off.

Triathlon World : Your accident was a shock for our sport worldwide? Could you tell us what happened, how dangerous was the situation and whether you have managed to recover?

Lukas Verzbicas : I was riding a six-loop interval training session on a hilly course at Garden of the Gods Park. On the last interval I pushed the pace too much while going down hill on a 180-degree turn and while taking it very wide I got caught up in sand on the side and lost control of my brakes, crashing straight into the guard rail barrier. I was rushed to the hospital where I learned I broke my spine and right collar bone, broke six ribs and had a collapsed lung. I had three major surgeries and spent 33 days in the hospital not knowing if I will ever even walk again. With hard work and faith I walked out of that hospital without any help proving all the doctors wrong. I’ve been recovering ever since and now back training. My first triathlon will take place March 9th.


Triathlon World : All the editors in TriathlonWorld believe that you are the next “brownlee”, the big favorite for the next Olympic Games. Do you share our opinion?

Lukas Verzbicas : I do not see myself as a Brownlee. Even though I look up to them and am inspired by all their achievements, I am a unique individual and want to be seen as Lukas, who other people can later try to compare to.


Triathlon World : What are your goals for 2013 and for your career as well?

Lukas Verzbicas : This year is all about returning to top physical shape from the accident and to further gain experience racing and winning.


Triathlon World : Who are your sponsors and what kind of help they provide you?

Lukas Verzbicas : I am very lucky to have full support of our governing body, USA Triathlon, which manages the logistics of training camps, races, travel and even media; they are the behind-doors people who help bring me up to the podium. I also extremely proud to be sponsored by Specialized bikes, which provides me with the best racing bikes in the world; Herbalife sports nutrition, which fuels my training; Spy Optics, who keep me looking good and comfortable on the course; and the New York Athletic Club whose long traditions make me honored to be part of it.

About triathlonworld

Ο κ. Γιάννης Ψαρέλης είναι από τα ιστορικά στελέχη του Τριάθλου στη χώρα μας έχοντας παρακολουθήσει και συμμετέχει έντονά στη διοικητική ανάπτυξη του αθλήματος. Χρόνια μέλος των εθνικών ομάδων ,εκπρόσωπος των αθλητών στην τεχνική επιτροπή του αθλήματος, υπεύθυνος χάραξης των διαδρομών αγώνων της Ομοσπονδίας μεταξύ των οποίων και της Ολυμπιακής διαδρομής του 2004 στη Βουλιαγμένη,έχει διατελέσει γενικός γραμματέας της Ομοσπονδίας Τριάθλου και εκπρόσωπος αυτής στην Ελληνική Ολυμπιακή Επιτροπή. Έχει πληθώρα προπονητικών πιστοποιήσεων στα αθλήματα αντοχής από εθνικές ομοσπονδίες και συνδέσμους προπονητών. Έχει παρακολουθήσει πλήθος εκπαιδευτικών σεμιναρίων της Διεθνούς Ομοσπονδίας Τριάθλου τόσο για Διοργανωτές Αγώνων όσο και κριτές. Επίσης έχει παρακολουθήσει πολυήμερα σεμινάρια για διοργανωτές αγώνων στη Λοζάνη κάτω από την εποπτεία της ΔΟΕ. Έχει σπουδάσει Χημεία στο Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών. Έχει τους εξής πανεπιστημιακούς μεταπτυχιακούς τίτλους : Αθλητική Διοίκηση (Παν.Lyon1-Masters in Sport Organisations Management – πρόγραμμα αναγνωρισμένο από την Διεθνή Ολυμπιακή Επιτροπή), Αθλητική Διοίκηση (Παν. Leicester), Διοίκηση Επιχειρήσεων (Οικονομικό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών- Executive MBA), Μάρκετινγκ & Επικοινωνία (Οικονομικό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών -MSc in Marketing and communication with New Technologies). Προπονητής Τριάθλου Προπονητής Τριάθλου Ο κ.Γιάννης Ψαρέλης έχει διατελέσει Διοικητικός Υπεύθυνος καθώς και Υπεύθυνος Στρατηγικής & Ανάπτυξης στο Sports Excellence (πρόγραμμα που πραγματοποιείται υπό την επιστημονική επίβλεψη της Α’ Ορθοπαιδικής Κλινικής του ΕΚΠΑ, όντας εγκεκριμένο κέντρο από τον Διεθνή Σύνδεσμο Κέντρων Υψηλού Αθλητισμού) έχοντας την επιστημονική επίβλεψη μέχρι και 1800 επίλεκτων αθλητών και αθλητριών προεθνικών και εθνικών ομάδων έως 18 ετών καθώς και των μελών της Προ-Ολυμπαικής προετοιμασίας για τους ΟΑ του Τόκυο (με μνημόνιο συνεργασίας με την ΕΟΕ). Σε επίπεδο ακαδημαϊκό/ ερευνητικό με σημείο αναφοράς μεταπτυχιακές και διδακτορικές σπουδές ασχολείται κυρίως με την επίδραση των προϊόντων νεοπρενίου/ wetsuit στην κολύμβηση τριαθλητών καθώς και με την μεγιστοποίηση της απόδοσης των αθλητών στο mixed relay του Τριάθλου. Από το 1990 συμμετέχει ως εισηγητής σε πλήθος εκπαιδευτικά προγράμματα επιμόρφωσης προπονητών, καθηγητών Φυσικής Αγωγής, γονέων αλλά και αθλητών είτε αναπτύσσοντας τεχνικά θέματα που αφορούν το Τρίαθλο είτε θέματα που αφορούν την ηθική στον αθλητισμό και το αντι-ντόπινγκ. Αρθογραφεί σε πλήθος αθλητικών ιστοσελίδων και περιοδικών σε θέματα που αφορούν την προπονητική, τους κανονισμούς του Τριάθλου ή θέματα ηθικής/ κοινωνιολογίας του αθλητισμού. Ο ίδιος σε συνεργασία με αθλητικούς φορείς (Ομοσπονδίας, Σωματείων και Αθλητικών Οργανισμών των Δήμων) από το 1990 έως σήμερα έχει σχεδιάσει και διοργανώσει έχοντας την επίβλεψη πάνω από 50 αγώνων σε όλη την Ελλάδα (Αθήνα, Χανιά, Ρέθυμνο, Τρίπολη, Θεσσαλονίκη, Σέρρες, Πιερία κ.λπ.)