Anne Haug: Background, career highlights, quotes

Germany's Anne Haug came to triathlon a little later than her peers, but this hasn't stopped the Ironman world champion. Here's how the long-distance star got to where she is today...

Anne haug wins kona 2019

A late developer when it came to triathlon, Anne Haug was a strong and resilient competitor in WTS racing, but her conversion to long-course competition took her to new heights. The highest of these was winning at Kona in 2019.

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Here’s Haug’s story so far…

Who is Anne Haug?

Haug came to triathlon at the age of 27 (Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Ironman)

Even before she took her place at triathlon’s top table, Germany’s Anne Haug was already something of a sporting polymath, showing prowess at a range of sports, including tennis, skiing, volleyball, badminton and judo. Indeed, Haug was already a world champion at indiaca, a Brazilian version of volleyball where a giant shuttlecock replaces the ball.

As such, Haug was a late convert to triathlon, only turning pro at the age of 27. At first, her travails aren’t particularly auspicious. Certainly her first season as part of the ITU World Triathlon Series is decidedly anonymous. But the following year, 2012, represents a remarkable breakthrough, with Haug registering six top-ten finishes in the series, including a maiden victory in Auckland. It ensures that she earns overall silver.

An overall WTS bronze in 2013 is followed by a handful of less successive seasons, resulting in Haug’s transition to half-Iron competition in 2017. It’s arguably the best decision of her career. She takes to long-course racing like the proverbial duck encountering water for the first time, very comfortably winning her first race, IM 70.3 Lanzarote. Haug’s full Ironman debut arrives the following year, since when Haug has raced both distances to strong effect.

The absolute pinnacle of her career to date’s undoubtedly her victory at the Ironman worlds in 2019, where she held off all rivals while posting a phenomenal time. Keeping hold of the title through various Covid-affected cancellations and postponements, Haug relinquished it to Swiss powerhouse Daniela Ryf in May 2022, but the German will be determined to grab it back at the earliest opportunity.

How old is Anne Haug?

Anne Haug was born on 20 January 1983, making her 39 years of age.

Anne Haug’s career highlights

Credit: Josef Salomon/Getty Images

April 2011: A maiden senior triumph

Haug scores her first elite victory when she breaks the tape in the European Cup race in Quarteira in Portugal ahead of her compatriot Rebecca Robisch.

April 2012: An WTS reputation is building

After the 2011 season brought a string of unremarkable results in the ITU World Triathlon Series, Haug enjoys her first top-ten finish in the series, coming home seventh in Sydney. This is followed by another seventh placing in San Diego, plus fourth places in both Hamburg and Stockholm.

August 2012: Olympic debut

Haug goes on to qualify for Rio in 2016 also (Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Haug makes her Olympic debut, surprising the competition by coming an impressive 11th after only a couple years of racing as a pro.

October 2012: A grand finish in the Grand Final

After silver in Yokohama, a final breakthrough season is capped with victory in the WTS Grand Final in Auckland. It gives Haug overall silver in the series, sandwiched between world champion Lisa Nordén of Sweden and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.

July 2013: A collective effort yields a world title

Haug celebrates a win near the start of her senior triathlon career (Credit: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

As a member of Germany’s mixed relay team, Haug wins world championship gold in Hamburg, having won the elite women’s race the day before. Haug finishes the season third in the series, an overall bronze to add to last season’s silver.

August 2016: Haug competes in the Rio 2016 Olympics 

She doesn’t make it into a breakaway and comes 36th overall in the women’s race.

September 2017: Haug switches up and goes long

Haug has multiple Ironman wins uner her belt (Credit: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for Ironman)

After a few more seasons of WTS competition in which she never repeats her previous highs, Haug marks her move up to middle-distance racing by winning her first-ever IM 70.3 event. In Lanzarote, she takes 11 minutes out of Lucy Charles-Barclay on the run to win by nearly eight minutes.

July 2018: A highly satisfactory Ironman debut

Ten months after her debut in Lanzarote (during which time she collects further 70.3 victories and California), Haug enters her first Ironman – in her home country – and finishes a credible fourth. There’s no medal, but it’s enough to qualify for Kona.

October 2018: Double Ironman world bronze

Haug’s success grew when she switched to longer distance (Credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

In September, Haug takes bronze at the IM 70.3 worlds behind Daniela Ryf and Lucy Charles-Barclay. Six weeks later in Kona, that podium is replicated, meaning Haug is a double IM bronze medallist in her first season at both distances.

October 2019: Haug achieves the ultimate – the Kona crown is hers

Injury seriously disrupts Haug’s season but she recovers just in time for Kona. Despite a disruptive past few months, the stars align in Hawaii and the German finishes more than six minutes ahead of Charles-Barclay in the third-fastest time recorded by a woman on the course. Here’s how the German star took Kona victory for the first time.

September 2021: Another blue riband win on the CV

(Credit: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

With no Ironman world championships this year because of the ongoing pandemic, Haug stays closer to home and wins the prestigious Challenge Roth.

May 2022: A podium place, but an unsuccessful defence of her crown

Back to full-distance racing, in St George in Utah, Haug takes bronze in the rearranged Ironman world championships postponed the previous autumn. It’s an unsuccessful defence of her title, but Daniela Ryf is again imperious in victory. A second world championships in 2022 will offer Haug the opportunity for restate her claim for the Kona crown.

July 2022: Rules in Roth

Spends the race playing chase after GB’s Fenella Langridge, but the overtake mid-marathon ensures title retention over the iconic German long-distance course.

August 2022: Wins for Europe in the Collins Cup

Haug makes it four wins from six for Team Europe, as the German holds off Canadian Tamara Jewett and USA’s Jackie Hering to take the tape.

Anne Haug in quotes

Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Ironman

On winning at Kona in 2019: “My preparation was everything other than perfect because I was injured almost half a year before that. I couldn’t run. I managed to qualify on the last possible date in Copenhagen, so my preparation was non-existent. But on the day everything came together.”

On failing to successfully defend her Ironman title in 2022, after the competition’s enforced and prolonged absence: “You can’t have an eyeball on a world championship title. Every race starts from zero and you have to show your very best to be on the podium. And Daniela was unbeatable today.”

On what motivates her at the age of 39: “I keep going because I still think there is more to come. I don’t really care about my age. I feel 25.”

What’s next for Anne Haug?

There is one overriding ambition for Haug this season, one main goal, one priority. And that is to wrestle the Ironman world title back, to rip it from Daniela Ryf’s clutches. With Lucy Charles-Barclay possibly back after her broken hip too, it promises to be the ultimate battle royale in Kona come October.

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Top image: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Ironman