Daniela Ryf: In Kona, if you fall apart you really fall apart

The five-time Ironman world champion had a day to forget in Hawaii, but stuck to her task to finish eighth

Daniela Ryf racing at the 2022 Ironman World Championship

Daniel Ryf started the 2022 Ironman World Championship as the overriding favourite, but the reigning champion from St George struggled from the start to eventually finish eighth.

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“In Kona, if you fall apart you really fall apart,” said the five-time Ironman world champion and course record holder. “That’s what happened today. It felt brutal.”

After emerging from the swim 7mins behind early race leader Lucy Charles-Barclay, normal service looked to be restored as Ryf laid down a race-best bike split.

But as soon as they got on to the run she struggled in the oppressive conditions. Chelsea Sodaro was soon on her way to victory, with Charles-Barclay coming second and Anne Haug third.

“I tried everything, so I can’t really be disappointed, but I’m not ecstatic about the result,” she added. “But that’s sport. You invest a lot and sometimes it works out and sometimes not.”

Taking a risk

After reclaiming her title in scintillating form in Utah and looking imperious in the Collins Cup, Ryf said she had prepared well for the defence of her crown on the neighbouring Hawaiian island of Maui.

“I don’t really have the answer as to what went wrong,” she explained. “On the bike I didn’t feel great and knew I had to take a bit of a risk if I wanted to win this race.

“I probably went a bit over my limit, but I’m happy I did as it’s the only way to try and win this race.

“Coming off the bike with only a little lead and feeling bad I knew it was going to be a hard marathon.”

Never give up

Daniela Ryf competes on the bike during the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman)

Despite dropping through the field, the Swiss triathlete never considered dropping out.

“It’s much easier to give up if something doesn’t go great, but I always want to finish to show respect for the other athletes – and you never know what is going to happen.

“I had the jellyfish sting in 2018, and I wanted to give up but I could still change everything. But eventually I knew on the run that it wasn’t going to happen today.”
Despite the defeat, Ryf remained magnanimous, and says it shows how she’s developed as an individual over the year.

“I don’t know how I’d have reacted if I’d not won in 2015, but for me now it’s not life changing if I win or lose. It’s a disappointment but not the end of the world.

“It’s also nice to be happy for someone else and I was super happy for Chelsea. It’s great to see other athletes coming through. She’s a mum, and I don’t know how she does it.”

Ryf said that she’ll now take a break from racing. “This race was the big goal and I put everything into this race. Unfortunately it didn’t work out but I’ll go home, have a bit of a holiday and move into my new house – so it’s still exciting times ahead.”

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Top image credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman