Since bursting on to the triathlon circuit just seven years ago, British Triathlete and triple World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington has gone from strength to strength, literally!
The 33-year-old, who celebrates her 34th birthday
on the 18th of Feb, has an impressive list of achievements, especially given the fact that she only learned the Ironman even existed in 2005 – and thought a girl she had met who was training for the IM New Zealand was crazy!
August 2007 saw Chrissie tackle her first Ironman, the Ironman Korea, where she loved every minute. She won, and with her victory she secured her passport to the World Ironman Championships in Kona – which she also won, leading on to her triumphing at 2008 and 2009 too.
To find out more about Chrissie we asked her a few quick-fire questions – including finding out about her superstitions and rituals, and what London 2012 means to her…
If you weren’t a triathlete what other sport would you choose and why?
I would probably be the Mud Wresting Champion (I got roped into doing the kids race at the 2010 Muddy Buddy race in Colorado and have always been partial to getting dirty!) or given my love for the film ‘Cool Runnings’ maybe I could be the fifth member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team.
I also love mountain biking (although I am not very good at the downhills) kayaking, hiking and anything that takes me outdoors amongst beautiful scenery! If I had to pick one sport to do I would say mountain biking – or adventure racing -for the challenge, the rawness of the sport, the scenery and the sheer masochism!
Failing that, I might just settle for trying to combine my two passions – sport and development – to try to make the world a better place, one small effort at a time and with slightly smaller calves. I wish I could do more, but at the moment my time is limited to being an ambassador to various charities, including Jon Blais’ Blazeman Foundation for ALS (www.waronals.com) which funds support and research into ALS (a motor neurone disease that is a death sentence); Jane Tomlinson’s Jane’s Appeal (www.janesappeal.com) and GOTRIbal, an organization aimed at empowering women and girls through sport (www.gotribalnow.com).
Champions come and go, but to me the real judge of my personal success will be whether I actually do something positive with the opportunities I have been given. I really hope that as a World Champion, I can be a role model and ambassador for the sport that everyone can be proud of. I try never to take for granted the opportunities I have to encourage others, to increase participation in triathlon and other sports and to generate more interest and support amongst the media and businesses, in the UK and around the world. That’s what motivates me – and, for me, that’s the beauty of sport. It is a vehicle to achieve so much more.
What essential item is always in your kit bag and why?
Aside from baby oil and rubber gloves (for lubing the wetsuit without getting my hands oily of course!) I would have to say my dog-eared copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ that was given to me by my former coach, Brett Sutton. I believe the lines of this poem hold the secret to becoming a great athlete and person.
How do you prepare before a big event or race? Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
I prepare meticulously, leaving very little to chance. I always have a plan and lists, to make sure I don’t forget anything. I don’t have any superstitions, but I always carry with me a few special items, including cards from friends, a copy of ‘If’ and a rock that my friend Billi gave me. She summited Mount Everest and she bought the rock down for me – I will always treasure it.
I don’t really have any rituals, but at the end of a race I always roll for Jon Blais. To be able to do that means so much to me, and is a symbol of my support for the cause, and Jon’s strength, courage and fortitude.
What was the last film you saw? Do you have a favourite film?
Last night I watched Man on Fire with Denzel Washington, which was simply superb. Other favourites are Crash, Gran Torino, and a Hindi film called Black. I saw Cool Runnings for the tenth time the other day. It is such a great film and I love the line “Go ahead Yul Brenner, you go get your palace” which reminds me to never stop dreaming. But of course, nothing compares to Love Actually and Pretty Woman!
Now we’re one year from London 2012, tell us what the Games mean to you.
To host the 2012 Olympics and Para Olympics is an honour and an amazing, unique opportunity for London and the UK. And it is one that cannot be wasted. Sport has tremendous power to make a positive difference to people’s lives – to build bridges, to break down barriers, to educate, generating confidence and bring joy. Having the Olympics in the UK will act like a giant snowball – inspiring athletes and helping to catalyse the growth of sports, including triathlon.
But the 2012 Olympic Games is not just about the two weeks of sport. The Games must bring tangible benefits at the grassroots level in the long term – getting people off their sofas and onto playing fields, tracks, courts and pitches and into swimming pools, clubs, youth centres. Everyone has a role to play in doing this. If we can leave a legacy of sporting passion and good infrastructure then this will mean that London 2012 would have been a success.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine