Chip on Chelsea Sodaro’s shoulder helped fuel Kona win

The new Ironman world champion said being written off ahead of the event’s return to Hawaii helped motivate her for success

Chelsea Sodaro celebrates winning the Ironman World Championship in Kona

“No-one was picking me to do much of anything here,” said Chelsea Sodaro after becoming the first Ironman world champion on debut since Chrissie Wellington in 2007 and the first American-born victor since 1995.

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Her finishing time of 8:33:46 was also the second-fastest winning time by a woman on the Big Island, as a 54:48 swim, 4:42:08 bike leg and 2:51:45 marathon took her to the tape 8min clear of Lucy Charles-Barclay.

“My mind is really blown right now”

“I thought I had a really solid debut in Hamburg, the second fastest debut ever, and I think I maybe got a little chip on my shoulder that my name wasn’t even in the conversation here,” she added.

“It took a lot of belief and investment of time and energy from my family, my coach [Dan Plews] and Team BMC, and I’m so proud to represent them out there today.”

Sodaro, who gave birth to daughter Skye 18 months ago and also became the first mother to win the event, could finally let her emotions flow at the finish having kept controlled throughout the 140.6-mile course.

“My mind is really blown right now, I think it will take a little while to sink in. I didn’t allow myself to believe I would win it until 40km [on the run] when I hit the top of Palani. I really focused on my process, staying cool and executing my plan.”

Good foundations

USA’s Chelsea Sodaro races at the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman)

Despite being a rookie, the terrain, heat and humidity weren’t unfamiliar to the PTO-ranked world No 13, though. “This is my sixth time on the island,” she explained.

“I came out here to train with Sarah Piampiano when she prepared in 2018, and watched her race here in 2019. I know the island and the conditions, and I learned so much from Sarah as to how to take care of myself out here. One hundred percent I owe a little bit of this victory to her.”

It was the first time the Ironman World Championship has been switched to a two-day event and Sodaro also applauded the move to make it a women’s-only professional race – with the men set to start on Saturday.

“I think having the full media focus on the women’s race is amazing and important,” she added. “The women’s field is so incredible right now, the racing is so exciting, I hope the media coverage opens people’s eyes to what we’re doing out here.”

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Top image credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman