Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Wellington to take break from triathlon


Four-time world champion and World Ironman Distance Record Holder, Chrissie Wellington has announced she will be taking a break from competing in Ironman during 2012 to explore other opportunities, including publication of her autobiography, “A Life Without Limits.”

Wellington, who won her fourth World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, last October and maintained her unbeaten record at Ironman distance – making it 13 victories from 13 races – made the announcement Monday, Jan. 16 in London.

“I’ve given absolutely everything to Ironman over the past five years. However, this year I’ve decided to take a break as I would like to spend more time focusing on other pursuits including dedicating more time to my chosen charities, the publication of my book and more active promotion of the sport in the UK, as well as giving myself the chance to explore and seize new opportunities within triathlon and outside,” she said.

Wellington said she believes she would not be able to pursue different goals while dedicating the energy and time needed to compete in Ironman events.

“The past five years have been absolutely incredible and I am extremely happy, proud and content with everything that I have achieved in the sport – topping it all off with the race of my life in Kona last year,” she said. “I have always seen triathlon as a part of my life, rather than the be all and end all, and am looking forward to a little more variety and balance by pursuing other interests, as well as spending more time with my family and friends.”

Wellington said she looks forward to being able to spend more time around the sport without the commitment of full time Ironman training and racing.

Ironman: Women’s season gets interesting


Chrissie Wellington’s announcement that she is “taking a break from competing in Ironman during 2012 to explore other opportunities” has opened the door for some dramatic women’s racing through the 2012 season.

2010 Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae (the Australian runner up to Wellington in 2009 and 2011) and Kona Points Ranking leader Leanda Cave (Great Britain) now head into the 2012 season as the women to beat. Both, however, will be challenged by an unprecedented level of women’s competition.

Wellington has enjoyed an unparalleled career in the sport. She is unbeaten in all of her Ironman and full-distance events, holds the course record in Kona and also the world-best time for the full distance.

Her withdrawal from the 2010 Ironman World Championship dramatically changed the event, but also opened the door for athletes like Carfrae, Cave and Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen to gain higher profile.

Last year’s race in Kona was the closest women’s race in over a decade – due, in part, to injuries Wellington had sustained heading into the race, but also a sign of how competitive the women’s Ironman field has become.

“I didn’t grow up with childhood dreams of becoming a professional athlete, and even when I did so in 2007 I never had any aspirations of racing at, or even winning, the World Ironman Championship,” she said. “Consequently, the biggest highlight of the past five years has been the huge element of surprise. The fact that, at every step, I have somehow defied what I ever thought possible for my body and mind, to achieve. I feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful to have found a sport that I love; to have had the opportunity to make that passion my career, to have forged countless new and lasting friendships; to have experienced some of the world’s most beautiful places, and of course to have developed a platform on which I can now build. This is by no means the end, merely another chapter and i cant wait to see what the future holds!”

A look at the top-12 finishers from last year’s race in Kona shows how fast the top women are.

Another Great Britain athlete, Rachel Joyce, finished in the top-five for the second year in a row in Kona. (Karin Thuerig, the sixth place finisher from last year’s race, has announced her retirement from the sport.)

Germany’s Sonja Tajsich, seventh last year, has a number of Ironman titles to her credit and could contend for the world title this year.

Heather Wurtele (Canada) won two Ironman races in 2011 (St. George and Lake Placid) before rounding out her season with an eighth-place finish in Kona.

Fast-running Caitlin Snow (USA) is just a bike ride away from being a contender at the world championship.

Spain’s Virginia Berasategui has multiple top-five finishes in Kona, while Scotland’s Catriona Morrison has yet to show her potential in Kona after dominating Ironman wins in Lanzarote and Texas over the last few years.

Rounding out the top-12 from Kona last year was Ironman France champion Tine Deckers (Belgium).

There are two other athletes who seem destined to compete at the highest levels of the sport over the next few years. Like Wellington before her, American Mary Beth Ellis burst onto the Ironman scene with three dramatic wins in 2011, including the fastest Ironman debut with her impressive win in Austria.

Ironman 70.3 world champion Melissa Rollison also exploded into the Ironman picture (should she move to the full distance in 2012) with her dominating performance in Las Vegas.

Suffice it to say that the Ironman world will certainly miss Wellington through the 2012 season, but also has a lot to look forward to.

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