Monday, April 11, 2011

Unsung hero(in)es: Chrissie Wellington

I'm not sure how much recognition Chrissie Wellington gets in the UK outside of triathlon circles (two worlds in which I no longer live) but, she does have an MBE, so at least the Queen is paying attention. As far as I am concerned, she cannot get enough recognition for her incredible achievements.

I think everyone has heard of Paula Radcliffe by now. Chrissie Wellington is the Paula Radcliffe of the triathlon world. It may be a cliché to compare one athlete to another from a different discipline, but it seems the only way to get the due respect in anything less than a lifetime. What reminded me to write something about Chrissie Wellington was reading last night that she not only won the Ironman in South Africa in record time, but her marathon leg was faster than anyone else (including the men, in case you were wondering). But this kind of result is no longer surprising now after the shockwaves that reverberated through the triathlon world in 2007 when she came from nowhere to win the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

At first glance her results look like an anomaly:  for example, last year, in Roth, she recorded a bike leg of 4:36:33 and a marathon of 2:48:54! I could go on, but you can find all this stuff in Wikipedia. The best article I have seen, however, is by the guys at Science of Sport who analyze whether she really is an anomaly or whether the gap between men and women in Triathlon is now where it should be as compared to other sports. All this is written in their usual style, being very careful not to detract from these amazing athletes.

What I like about Chrissie from reading her regular columns in triathlon magazines, is that she seems to have a contagious energy and healthy sense of humour. After all, she was unable to defend her crown in last year's Ironman World Championships due to illness and she has had her fair share of bike crashes and broken bones, so these two qualities will have come in handy. I'm just disappointed she didn't chose Ironman Brazil this year...

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