Female triathletes: top 10 greatest ever?
We have discussed, debated and, frankly, argued furiously about who should make it onto our top 10 female triathletes of all time list... do you agree with our chosen 10?
8 Erin Baker
Kiwi athlete Erin Baker has attracted controversy throughout her life. Never one to hide her opinions, she protested against the apartheid during the South African rugby tour of New Zealand, fought gender inequality, and railed at the ‘useless corrupt old men’ at the International Olympic Committee.
These rebellions often overshadowed her significant achievements on and off the race course, from becoming the first female ITU world champion in 1989 and the debut Antipodean winner at Ironman Hawaii to being cited as a major factor in the sport’s establishment of equal prize pots for both men and women. Former ITU President, Les McDonald, attributes one of the reasons behind the move to equal prize money in the sport being because of athletes like Baker failing to take no for an answer.
Baker was born in 1961 her first sporting successes came in cross-country running. She won her first triathlon in 1984 and a year later she would take her first of three titles at the Nice International Triathlon. Wins at Ironman New Zealand in 1986 and 1987 followed before Baker’s first venture on the Big Island of Hawaii came in October ’87, becoming the first athlete from Down Under to win the Hawaii crown, smashing Paula Newby-Fraser’s course record by 14mins in the process.
In early 1990, Baker would take gold at triathlon’s demonstration event at the Commonwealth Games and break the course record at Ironman Canada after a 2:49hr marathon run split, and won Kona in the hottest conditions the race has ever known.
The 1990 title would be Baker’s last in Hawaii but she’d continue to rack up the victories across every level of multisport, winning the ITU World Duathlon Championships in 1991 and Powerman Zofingen in 1992 and ’94 to amass a total of 104 wins of the 121 races she entered, including four wins at Ironman New Zealand and two at Ironman Canada.
220 Staff Writer Jack Sexty says: "Erin Baker is one of the few on this list to have won major World Championships across standard and long course, having won the first ITU World Series in 1989 and the Ironman World Championships twice. Though the standard and professionalism of the sport has arguably developed since Baker was in her prime, such versatility and ability to switch distances (and win major honours) in successive seasons transcends her era – as does her maverick reputation!"
Erin Baker greatest victories
1991 ITU World Duathlon Champion
1990 Ironman World Champion
1989 ITU World Champion
1987 Ironman World Champion