As part of firstoffthebike.com’s countdown to our merge with TriathlonWorld.com we are naming names as we outline our Top 10 athletes we have seen in the last decade of covering the sort of triathlon. Today is number 2 Chrissie Wellington.
This might have been the toughest of the podium places but Chrissie Wellington’s impact on the triathlon world is still being felt. From the humble beginnings to master of all she surveyed Wellington broke the mould and rewrote scores of records en route to a lasting legacy. An age group World Title lead to an ITU World Title lead to 4 Ironman World Titles and the indelible shadow she cast over the sport. Whenever Wellington showed up to race an Ironman she won. She never lost an Ironman in her career. Her wins in Roth too had her the fastest racer over the distance. There are few to stand alongside Wellington in the women’s triathlon world. She was a giant of the sport.
I can recall getting in touch with Wellington for an interview and her response was simple. Ask me something interesting. That was the tone set for our journo/athlete relationship. She was in control and told the media what she wanted them to hear and if she was going to lift her game on the course then you’d better lift yours from behind your laptop. She used her status as World Champion as a podium to publicly spread her message. That sport can change lives and that humanity is more than swim bike and run. We were always expecting her to run for public office. One Kona pre race press conference saw Wellington asked whether she was in good condition. She grabbed the mic, stared the journo down and said she was fitter, stronger and better than a year before. Had the mic drop been invented then it would have been most appropriate. But for us Wellington was a master. She was an unstoppable force that once connected to the race course changed into this driven human. But it was not all sanitised. Wellington smiled a lot on course, a demeanour that belied the damage she would be doing to the race as she invariably blew it to pieces. Watching so many Wellington victories over the journey was a privilege and also pretty cool fun to boot!