portrait portrait

Judith Marie Flannery

Judy (née Sysko) was born on 24th December 1939 in Wilmington, Delaware. She was married to Dennis Flannery, and they raised a son Dennis and four daughters Erin, Kelly, Shannon and Megan in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Judy graduated from the College of New Rochelle and and initially worked as a biochemist. She lived the "normal suburban life" for many years, but she took up running when she was 38 years of age. In the ensuing years, Judy went on to become an athletic champion of monumental proportions. Admired by all who competed and trained with her, she was the essence of humility and grace.

Running led to marathons which, in turn, progressed to her participation in the women’s triathlon (1.5 km swim + 40 km cycle + 10 km run). She trained every Wednesday with a group of cycling enthusiasts on a 55 mile route in the local countryside.

Judy was Triathlon World Champion four times (1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996) and was Duathlon World Champion five times (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996).

She was U.S.A. Triathlon National Age Group Champion six times (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996) and was Columbia Triathlon Master’s Champion eight times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996). Judy was also crowned Women’s Masters Triathlete of the Year.

In addition to competition, Judy (nicknamed JuJu) served as social director for her fellow athletes; she made the hotel reservations, arranged dinners and organised reunions. She also worked as a volunteer in a soup kitchen in Washington DC, called "So Others Might Eat".

Tragically, on 2nd April 1997, she was training with her fellow cyclists for the July 1997 Ride across America (a multi-day team relay from Irvine, California to Savannah, Georgia) when she was struck by a car and killed.

Her genuine warmth and modesty have ensured that she will not be forgotten by her colleagues, who formed Team Flannery in her honour and completed the gruelling 3,050 mile trans-continental race in 7 days 21 hours and 57 minutes. Since then, the Judy Flannery Memorial Fund was established to create financial scholarships for women in triathlon and duathlon world competition.

Judy was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2008.

[her portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of USA Triathlon Hall of Fame]