Chelsea Sodaro made headlines in 2022 when she was crowned the Ironman world champion in Kona, becoming the first female to win on debut since 2007 and the first American since 1996.
Before that, her biggest results had been a silver on her Ironman debut in Hamburg – and posting the second-fastest Ironman debut of all time – and bronze at the PTO Canadian Open alongside Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle and home star Paula Findlay.
But who is this long-course star and how did her triathlon journey unfold?
Who is Chelsea Sodaro?
Chelsea Sodaro spent her childhood cycling, swimming and playing competitive football in her hometown of Davis, California. Later discovering a talent for running, Sodaro became a four-time All-American athlete racing competitively in cross-country at UC Berkley.
After suffering with a string of injuries that led to her just missing out on making the US track team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sodaro’s husband Steve suggested that she took up triathlon.
The spring of 2017 saw Sodaro give triathlon a go for the first time and she was immediately besotted. Dedicating herself to triathlon training, Sodaro achieved her first ITU podium that very same season.
After taking gold at the 2018 ITU World Cup, Sodaro transitioned to middle-distance racing, where she began winning 70.3 events straight off the bat.
One of her top achievements includes an incredible top five position at her first Ironman 70.3 World Championships and taking the long-distance stage by storm in 2022 after the birth of her daughter Skylar.
When she’s not training to achieve her full triathlon potential, Sodaro spends time with her eight-year-old Boxer dog Tyson, volunteers regularly with IronKids and works with local track programmes.
After becoming a mum for the first time in early 2021, Sodaro is passionate about empowering female athletes to be both mothers and athletes.
How old is Chelsea Sodaro?
Chelsea Sodaro was born on 6 May 1989, making her 33 years old.
Chelsea Sodaro’s career highlights
June 2018: Victory at the Huatulco ITU World Cup
Takes her first ITU win in Mexico during her first full season of professional racing.
November 2018: Places on the podium at first-ever 70.3 race
After moving up to middle-distance racing part-way through the 2018 season, Sodaro races her first 70.3 race in Waco, Texas, and claims bronze behind compatriots Alicia Kaye and Haley Chura in a time of 3:53:25.
A few weeks later, Sodaro consolidates her up-and-coming status with a win at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells.
November 2019: Becomes Ironman 70.3 South America champion
Having only raced four half-iron events, Sodaro takes the gold under the Argentinian sun in Buenos Aires, in a winning time of 4:07:18.
September 2019: Secures a top five at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Despite only racing on the middle-distance stage for a year, Sodaro takes fourth in the world on a hilly and hot course in Nice. The only women ahead of her are Daniela Ryf, Holly Lawrence and Imogen Simmonds.
Lucy Charles-Barclay finishes 43secs down in fifth.
August 2021: Takes on IM 70.3 Boulder four months after giving birth
It may not be a podium this time, but a sixth place is not too shabby on her return to the pro circuit and first race as a mum.
June 2022: One of the fastest debut Ironman times ever in Hamburg
Takes silver on her Ironman debut in a time of 8:36:41 behind German star Laura Philipp, who sets the fastest-ever women’s Ironman time, going down in history as the second-fastest Ironman debut of all time.
July 2022: Takes bronze at the PTO Canadian Open
The unique 100km format race plays to Sodaro’s strengths in Edmonton, who has the third fastest run split of the day and takes the final spot on the podium at the PTO Canadian Open.
October 2022: Wins BIG on the Big Island
Shocks the long-distance world when she becomes the first female since Chrissie Wellington in 2007 to take the Ironman world title on debut. She also becomes the first American to win since 1996.
Chelsea Sodaro in quotes
On her love of the outdoors: “I feel most at home outside, especially in the outdoor playground of Marin County. I love to hike and paddle board, followed up with a stop at my favourite bakery.”
On being a parent and a pro athlete: “We shouldn’t have to choose between being world-class athletes and being mums”
On her outlook: “My goals is to find out what is possible for my body and mind”
What’s next for Chelsea Sodaro?
Having won the biggest prize in tri, Chelsea might decide she fancies adding the 2022 70.3 crown to her growing collection of trophies and accolades…
Top image credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman