The 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion, Britain’s Holly Lawrence has a win-list that almost all other triathletes would trade an organ for.
A middle-distance specialist, she currently has 16 Ironman 70.3 titles under her belt, many earned through her prowess in the water and on the bike.
Here, we take a look back at all she’s achieved so far…
Who is Holly Lawrence?
Raised in Somerset and educated at Swansea University, Holly Lawrence is one of the most successful middle-distance triathletes these shores have ever produced, her crowning glory being the Ironman 70.3 world title she won in 2016 on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
Having made the transition from short-course racing in 2015, Lawrence moved to California in her mid-20s, from where she’s launched a rather formidable career. To date, and in addition to that world crown, the Brit has won no fewer than 15 other Ironman 70.3 titles right across the globe – from Canada to Dubai, Cozumel to Vietnam.
A very serious foot injury in 2018 dictated a long absence from competition (one diagnosis predicted Lawrence would never run again), but on her return to racing, she proved she hadn’t lost a yard of her speed, nor an ounce of that tenacity.
At the age of 32, expect another few 70.3 titles before Lawrence makes the expected decision to upgrade to full Ironman distance.
How old is Holly Lawrence?
Holly Lawrence was born on 25 February 1990, making her 32 years of age.
Holly Lawrence’s career highlights
June 2014: A medal as Lawrence says goodbye to short-course racing
In what would end up as her final year in short-course racing, Lawrence wins bronze in the mixed relay in Kitzbühel at the ETU European Championships.
This year she also competes in her only WTS series race (in London), as well as representing Wales in the Commonwealth Games.
September 2016: Lawrence sits on top of the world
With 2015 being the first season of Lawrence’s reboot and move into middle-distance territory, her progress is swift as she claims the Ironman 70.3 world crown in Mooloolaba in Queensland.
With a speedy swim and fast bike, Lawrence does enough on the run to comfortably hold off the challenge of the speedball silver medallist Melissa Hauschildt of Australia.
Also in 2016 come wins at the Beijing International Triathlon, Ironman 70.3 Vineman, Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant and Escape From Alcatraz.
March 2017: Six of the best for Lawrence at 70.3 distance
Lawrence’s maiden victory at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, just down the Californian coast from her Santa Monica home, is but one prestigious triumph in a year that also sees half-distance golds in Bahrain, Racine, Mont-Tremblant, Santa Rosa and St George.
April 2018: A career-threatening injury means a long lay-off
Lawrence fails to defend her Oceanside crown and, in the process of coming second, she cracks the navicular bone in her foot. One doctor tells her she’ll never run again. But having got second and third opinions, Lawrence is more hopeful – despite her injured foot being encased in a plaster cast for four months.
May 2019: Best foot forward for a glorious return
Dispelling the diagnosis of that original doctor, Lawrence surges to victory at Ironman 70.3 St George, breaking the course record into the bargain. She is back.
September 2019: Silver at the Ironman 70.3 world championships
Three years after beating double defending champion Daniela Ryf at the 70.3 worlds in Mooloolaba, the Swiss athlete gets her revenge by taking her fifth title at the event ahead of second-placed Lawrence. The Brit’s silver, though, is a reward for riding out the low points in her career.
September 2020: A curtailed season, but yet another win
A commanding win at Cozumel is Lawrence’s 16th career victory at 70.3. Form like this could have seen her scoop a second world 70.3 title, but the pandemic caused the championships, due to be held earlier that year in Taupo, New Zealand, to be cancelled.
Holly Lawrence in quotes
On switching from short course to middle distance at a comparatively young age: “That style of racing just didn’t suit my strengths and was so dependent on who was racing as to how the race panned out. It was much more tactical. I just started wanting to race for myself.”
On swapping South Wales for Santa Monica: “I wanted to escape the cold, wet winters of Swansea and have a consistent training base. I love the sun and it makes such a difference to train all year round without keeping an eye on the weather forecast.”
On her motivation: “I always hated people who said ‘I’m here to win. I just want to win.’ But now I’m like, ‘I need to win!’ I’m turning into that person!”
What’s next for Holly Lawrence?
It’s been six years since that glorious triumph at the Ironman 70.3 worlds. Now in her early 30s, it will surely be time for Lawrence to double up distance-wise and take on the challenge of the full-distance Ironman world.
Top image credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images for Ironman