Celebrating the Women that Inspire Triathlon

by Chelsea White on 08 Mar, 2018 09:50 • Español

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Happy International Women's Day! We are so proud to represent so many extraordinary women in sport from all ages, races and backgrounds from around the world! And still proud to be one of the leading International Federations in gender equality! #SheLovesTri #PressForProgress

Happy International Women’s Day!

On March 8 the world recognizes all women across the globe for their accomplishments, dreams and successes. However, here within ITU we like to honour amazing women every single day of the year. But in celebration of the holiday we wanted to show some extra love and paid tribute to all of the strong, fierce, tough, talented and POWERFUL WOMEN in triathlon and in sport that inspire us to do and be better. ITU is also proud to be one of the leading International Federations in the Olympic movement in the fight for gender equality such as our continued promise for equal prize money and representation for men and women in our competitions.

So, we hope that you take a moment to celebrate #IWD2018 with us and read just a couple stories of women in triathlon from the past and present that are true examples of female role models.

Elizabeth Bravo (ECU)

In 2016 Bravo qualified for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games and competed in her second-career Olympic Games as the only Ecuadorian triathlete to ever do so. But what was remarkable about her story was the fact that she accomplished all of this after recently giving birth to her first child. In January 2016, Bravo gave birth to her son and after only a few months she started competing at the elite international level. She then qualified for her second Olympic Games (first one being the 2012 London Games) and then in August raced in Rio. In October 2017, Bravo won her first ITU World Cup race in Salinas in her home nation, where she celebrated at the finish line with her son in her arms. Bravo is an exceptional example of all women athletes who are mothers and the strength they show not only for themselves, but for their families.

Gwen Jorgensen (USA)

Jorgensen will go down as one of the top female triathletes in history. She accomplished so many feats and set so many records in the sport that her performances you had to watch for yourself to believe it. She is a two-time ITU World Champion, winning in 2014 and 2015 and was the gold medallist at the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympic Games. During her career she collected 17 WTS golds and 21 WTS podiums. From 2014-2015 she tallied up a 12-race winning streak, which aided in her undefeated 2015 season that led to her second World Championship crown. Her victories were unparalleled, especially when it came to the run. She was unstoppable on the run, once coming back to win after being down by 94 seconds (2016 WTS Leeds). After she announced her retirement from triathlon in 2017, she then decided to continue chasing her dreams and has been working for qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the marathon event. Nothing is impossible for women for who are determined!

Flora Duffy (BER)

Duffy is the current powerhouse fierce female athlete competing at the elite level. In just a few years time she has gone from appearing in the winner’s circle to completely dominating it. As the only elite woman competing for the small island country of Bermuda, she won her first World Triathlon Series race in WTS Stockholm in 2016. After finishing 8th in the Rio de Janerio Olympic Games she then went on to win her first WTS World Championship in 2016. She then followed up her success in 2017 by winning six WTS races and earning the title of back-to-back World Champion. That season put her in the history books as one of two women to warn the most WTS podiums in a single season (7) as well as earning a victory with the largest winningest margin in a women’s race with 110 seconds. Duffy is a beast on the bike, but she also has made a huge impact in the sport of triathlon on what it means to be a complete three-discipline athlete. She excels in the swim, bike and run and has propelled the sport forward to push competitions to not expect anything less.

Melissa Stockwell (USA)

In 2004, Stockwell became the first woman to lose a limb in the Iraq war after being deployed to combat after the September 11th terrorist attack in New York. Her injury occurred when the Hum-vee that she was riding in hit an explosive IED. Losing a leg is devastating, and while most would consider themselves tragic, the opposite was true for Stockwell. In fact, the word she used to describe her situation is: lucky.

“I was really thankful to have my life. When I got to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that really helped me put it into perspective because I was surrounded by other soldiers who were a lot worse off than I was—missing multiple limbs or having brain issues. So I really couldn’t say “poor me” anymore because I had three limbs, I had my eyesight, I had my mind and my heart. I really was one of the lucky ones because I had my life.”

It was her injury that then introduced her to the Paralympic movement and in 2008, Stockwell competed in the Bejing Games as a swimmer and had the honor of being named the flag bearer in the closing ceremonies. After Bejing, Stockwell was invited to compete in a triathlon. Stockwell is now a two-time paratriathlon World Champion (2010, 2011) and earned the bronze medal in the PTS2 sport category in the debut 2016 Rio De Janeiro Paralympic Games, which she earned on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

Fabienne St Louis (MRI)

If ever there was an inspirational story about overcoming obstacles, Fabienne’s would be it. As the sole elite representing the small African country of Mauritius, qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games was a remarkable feat. But, everything changed for Fabienne when in December of 2015, she was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer right in the middle of her training period to prep for the Games. She began treatment for the rare form of cancer the following April, but she faced an uphill battle getting her body in shape to compete at an Olympics level. Then, after undergoing two surgeries to remove the tumour and another to remove further cancerous cells, complications left Fabienne with face paralysis for three long months. However, when August 2016 came and it was time to line up on the Olympic start line, Fabienne toed that line. Despite all of her challenges, she had qualified, she had earned her place on that roster and no battle of cancer or any obstacle was going to stop her from competing in what she worked so hard for. Fabienne started the race, unfortunately, she was forced to pull out of the swim. Her story is one about overcoming, about never giving up and about hope in the face of adversities.

Katie Kelly and Michellie Jones (AUS)

This duo of amazing Aussie women couldn’t showcase a stronger pair of tough women triathletes!

Kelly was born with a degenerative disease that has slowly downgraded her eyesight to a legally blind state, Kelly came into her own in paratriathlon after having years of experience with the sport. Before fully committing to the paratri elite field, she had spent the previous 5 or so years prior to 2015 doing many different triathlons and marathons, including the Alice Springs Marathon, the Port Macquarie Ironman in 2013, the Darwin Triathlon Long Course and the Midnight Sun Marathon held in Norway in 2014. By joining forces with two-time ITU World Champion and former Australian Olympian Michellie Jones to act as her companion and guide, she went on to win her first World Paratriathlon Event race in the Sunshine Coast. Sine that time she has gone on to become a two-time PTVI World Champion and won the gold medal in the inaugural 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.

Jones may only be the guide to Kelly in this Aussie partnership, but she is an ITU Hall of Fame Inductee that has been a name in the triathlon history books for years. She is a two-time ITU World Champion (1992-93), silver medallist at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and won the 2005 Ironman World Championship. These women prove the power of what can happen when you join forces!

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