World champion Wellington tells local kids ‘anything’s possible’
Four-time World Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington believes her inspirational journey, from a civil servant to the greatest female endurance athlete on the planet, proves it's never too late to try something new.
Wellington, the guest speaker at the Bermuda Triathlon Association's awards dinner at Riddell's Bay on Saturday night, has won all 13 of her Ironman competitions and holds the women's world record.
It's a phenomenal feat for someone who didn't even discover competitive sport until well into her 20s, and eventually the Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
“I swam a bit as a kid but I didn't really take it seriously until I was in my mid-20s when it just presented itself as a new challenge,” said Wellington, who hails from Norfolk, England.
“I tried it, loved it and became pretty good at it in quite quickly. I guess it's a lesson to us all that we shouldn't be scared to try new things.
“That's the message, not to be scared to try new things. I wasn't scared to try triathlon and look where it's taken me, so I really believe anything is possible if you're prepared to work hard at it. It feels incredibly surreal, still.”
A former university friend of local swimming couple, Steve and Belinda Castree, Wellington took time out during her vacation to conduct a junior development camp at Clearwater Beach on Saturday morning for an enthusiastic group Bermuda's up-and-coming triathletes.
Happily signing T-shirts and baseball caps long after the end of the fun-packed session, Wellington hoped her somewhat against the odds story will resonate with the youngsters and motivate them to fulfill their life goals.
“It's a beautiful Island, I've done an open water swim and been for a bike ride and came down to see the kids this morning which was phenomenal,” she said.
“They were really enthusiastic and it was great to see them being encouraged to take part in triathlons at such a young age in a structured, safe environment. It's really great to see.
“I was invited over the last couple of years and couldn't manage it because of training and racing but finally this year we made it happen.”
Wellington recently announced she would be taking a sabbatical from Ironman racing for the year of 2012 to focus on other endeavours, which include promoting her new book, A Life Without Limits, as well as focusing more on her charitable efforts.
Remaining completely idle for a hardcore endurance athlete like Wellington is almost impossible, though, and she plans to compete in the Paris Marathon before cycling, via Hull, to the start line of the London Marathon, in which she also plans to run.
“I'm actually taking a year off to promote my biography and I want to travel a lot more. I also want to work more with the charities that I'm an ambassador for, so that's my plan for the year,” she said.
“Readers can expect honesty, candidness and a few surprises; I've been working on it for a long time and I'm extremely proud of it. Everyone seems to like as much as I enjoyed writing it and that makes me very happy.”
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