India Lee: Background, career highlights, quotes

British triathlete India Lee has gone from strength to strength since switching up to middle-distance racing in 2018. Here's her story so far…

India Lee winning Ironman 70.3 Weymouth on September 22, 2019

Already a double European champion, India Lee’s career entered another dimension when the Brit stepped up to middle-distance racing. The medals continued to flow…


Who is India Lee?

Over the last 10 years of so, India Lee has proved herself to be one of the more versatile British women in multisport, eminently competitive whatever the distance or format.

Originally from Winchester but now based in Bath, she started out in duathlon, being crowned an age-group champion at the 2013 European championships.

Her first triathlon podium arrived a couple of years later, followed the following season by a maiden World Cup win in Sardinia.

That month – May 2016 – was a particularly notable one. After Cagliari, Lee travelled to Lisbon for the European Champs, returning with two golds after the most productive weekend of her career, which saw her take both individual and mixed relay titles.

Despite this success, Lee never left much of a visible mark in the World Triathlon Series and changed tack accordingly. And her first Ironman 70.3 race brought immediate success in foul conditions in Weymouth.

Further 70.3 successes (in Finland and Weymouth again), coupled with a handful of medals in the Challenge series, proved that focusing on middle-distance racing had revitalised her career.

It remains to be seen whether her imminent conversion to Ironman will provide yet another successful chapter in her notable career.

How old is India Lee?

India Lee was born on 31 May 1988, making her 35 years of age.

India Lee’s career highlights

during the triathlon on Day eight of the European Championships Glasgow 2018 at Strathclyde Country Park on August 9, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. This event forms part of the first multi-sport European Championships.
India Lee, right, racing with Germany’s Laura Lindemann at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow. (Credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

April 2013: A maiden European crown

At the European duathlon championships in the Netherlands, Lee takes an age-group victory, comfortably winning after posting the fastest times on both runs.

May 2015: Lee claims her first triathlon podium

In a European Cup race in Antalya in Turkey, Lee finds herself among the medals when she takes bronze, beating reigning British champion Emma Pallant-Browne into the bargain.

March 2016: Another bronze, this time Stateside

At the CAMTRI American Sprint Championships in Sarasota, Florida, Lee comes home third, held from silver by just-turned-18 future 70.3 world champion Taylor Knibb.

May 2016: Lee tastes Sardinian gold

India Lee winning the 2016 ITU Cagliari World Cup. (Credit: ITU/Janos Schmidt)

On the island of Sardinia, Lee breaks the tape in the World Cup race in the capital Cagliari – her first international triathlon triumph.

May 2016: Double dose of golden glory

At the European Championships in Lisbon, Lee is the star of the show. Thanks to the day’s fastest bike leg, she takes gold before, 24 hours later, repeating the trick as part of GB’s dominant mixed relay champions.

September 2018: Half-Iron victory at first attempt

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: India Lee of Great Britain celebrates winning the womens race during IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth on September 23, 2018 in Weymouth, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
India Lee celebrates winning her first Ironman 70.3 on debut, in Weymouth, 2018. (Credit: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ironman)

Still not making a splash on the World Triathlon Series circuit (her highest-place finish being 17th in Leeds in 2017), Lee’s last race of 2018 is her middle-distance debut.

And it’s a significant debut, one that will divert her career in a different direction, taking the win in cold and wet conditions at Ironman 70.3 Weymouth by almost three clear minutes.

June 2019: More 70.3 gold

After taking bronze at Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix (making it a GB 1-2-3 alongside Emma Pallant-Browne and Nikki Bartlett), Lee returns to the top step of the podium at Ironman 70.3 Finland, leading home yet more promising middle-distance Brits in the shape of Kat Matthews and Lucy Buckingham.

September 2019: Lee retains her Weymouth title

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: India Lee of Great Britain reacts after winning the female race of IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth on September 22, 2019 in Weymouth, England. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
India Lee collapses with relief and elation having just won the 2019 Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. (Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images for Ironman)

A fortnight after just missing a top-10 finish at the Ironman 70.3 world champs in Nice, Lee swaps the south of France for the south coast of England where she defends her crown at Weymouth, taking more than nine minutes out of her winning time of 12 months earlier.

May 2021: Up for the Challenge

NICE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Lena Berlinger of Germany (2nd), Nicola Spirig of Switzerland (1st) and India Lee of Great Britain (3rd) cheer after competing in the Supersapiens IRONMAN 70.3 Nice on September 12, 2021 in Nice, France. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
L-R: Lena Berlinger (2nd), Nicola Spirig (1st) and India Lee (3rd) celebrate on the podium at Ironman 70.3 Nice, 2021. (Credit: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images for Ironman)

Lee opens her season with a silver at Challenge Riccione on Italy’s shimmering Adriatic Coast. Further medals this season come courtesy of third-place Ironman 70.3 finishes in both Nice and Lanzarote.

April 2022: Lee runs her way into the medals

At Challenge Salou in north-eastern Spain, Lee recovers from a disappointing bike leg to post the fastest run split and take bronze.

June 2022: Is part of history in Germany

Sub7Sub8 Germany on 5th June 2022, during the Sub7Sub8 Event
India Lee, left in blue top, paces the run for Kat Matthews during the Sub8 challenge in Germany on 5 June 2022. (Credit: @mana_seg)

Acts as a pacer for Kat Matthews’ Sub8 attempt in Germany. She’s the only athlete to pace for all three disciplines, and is ultimately successful as Matthews clocks a 7:31:54 to become the first female triathlete to break 8 hours over an iron distance.

June 2022: European 70.3 bronze comes Lee’s way

HELSINGOR, DENMARK - JUNE 26: (L-R) Ashleigh Gentle of Australia (2nd), Emma Pallant of Great Britain (1st) and India Lee of United States of America (3rd) cheer after competing in the IRONMAN 70.3 Elsinore on June 26, 2022 in Helsingor, Denmark. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
L-R: Ashleigh Gentle (2nd), Emma Pallant-Browne (1st) and India Lee (3rd) on the podium of Ironman 70.3 Elsinore, 2022. (Credit; Alexander Koerner/Getty Images for Ironman)

Two months later, bronze is again the colour as Lee earns herself a medal at the Ironman 70.3 European championships in Elsinore in Denmark behind compatriot Emma Pallant-Browne and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle.

July 2022: Gold completes Lee’s set of Challenge medals

After silvers and bronzes, Lee finally wins a Challenge race. In Vansbro in Sweden, she dominates right from the off with a swim that’s more than two and a half minutes quicker than the rest of the field.

October 2022: Penalty interrupts the race of her life

Lee is stung with a 5min penalty at the 2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championship and finishes 11th. It’s a cruel blow as she was having the race of her career in third place and could well have finished in the top five.

November 2022: Top 10 in her first Ironman

Finishes sixth at Ironman Israel, her first full-distance event. Her compatriot and friend Ruth Astle takes the win.

March 2023: Silver in Lanza

Back at the 70.3 distance, she takes a solid second in Lanzarote. The winner, Anne Haug, crosses the line 12mins ahead.

May 2023: Champion of The Championship

Lee smashes the course record at The Championship in Samorin, Slovakia, with a time of 3:58:29. The previous owner was Lucy Charles-Barclay, set in 2019.

India Lee in quotes

On maintaining perspective: “The sport can seem pretty important when you’re in it, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re just trying to get from A to B as quick as we can. It’s not really changing the world. But it can change your world, so make the most of it.”

On finding her bike’s thru-axle sheared in half after an Easyjet flight to Alicante: “I unzipped the bag and just stood there staring at it with my hands on my knees. The more I looked at it, the more I saw how bad it was.”

On the future: “My ambition over the next few years is to step up to Ironman and be competitive over that distance in championship races. I need to build on the consistency I’ve achieved and to be patient. I believe it’s possible.”

What’s next for India Lee?

Aside from those Ironman ambitions, Lee still has unfinished business at 70.3 distance. Having previously won European bronze and finished outside the top 10 at the 2022 world champs, it’s unlikely she’ll abandon middle-distance racing without having another crack at a major title.


Top image credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images for Ironman