Chrissie Wellington Triathlete, 40
were special for different reasons All my world championships [Wellington won the World Ironman title four times]. But it was in the first one that I surpassed all my expectations. It was such a surprise to everyone – including me. It changed my life for ever.
I always wanted to achieve the highest At school I was extremely focused. grades and to beat as many people in my class as possible. My parents are non-pushy. I don’t know where my competitive spirit comes from.
but I never pursued anything too seriously. I was a very active child, If someone had told me then that I’d end up becoming a professional athlete I would have laughed in their face.
I’ve never entered The human body and mind are incredibly powerful. a race where something hasn’t been hurting, but on the day it’s always fine. So if injury or accident spoils my preparation, I don’t let my head drop.
When I went to I was troubled by disordered eating as a teenager. university I got a handle on it and the obsession left me. But then, while doing an MA, it reared its ugly head again. I wanted to lose weight, but started really limiting what I ate. It came from my huge desire for control.
It was even worse when I was pregnant. It drove my I am a terrible snorer. husband mad. I don’t think it’s a bad habit… I’m not disturbed by it at all.
It was so big it filled with water I once borrowed a wetsuit from a friend. and I began to sink. I had to be rescued by a kayaker. That was the first race my parents ever came to. They didn’t come to another until after I’d already won the world championships. Whether it’s the Marmite or the I never put lids back on jars properly. toothpaste, I never seem to be able to get them on. with my full-time job as At 29, I was juggling 22 hours a week of training a policy advisor. I was smashing myself. I knew no bounds with regard to how hard I should go. Giving up my career to become a professional athlete was a huge decision. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. some people like to be cooked for. I am definitely Some people like to cook, in the latter camp.
I used to do landscapes and watercolours. Then when I relax by painting. my friends started having babies I used to enjoy copying out silly things, like Winnie the Pooh, as presents for them.
On the serious side it’s bigotry, I get depressed by all sorts of things. apathy and inequality. On the other side, it’s a lack of sunshine and irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.
we always talk about the external form. I’m When we talk of our bodies, not worried about getting older. I don’t care about looking 30 when I’m 50. But I want to stay holistically healthy. To the Finish Line by Chrissie Wellington is published by Constable at £18.99. To order a copy for £16.14, go to bookshop.theguardian.com
The human body and mind are incredibly powerful. I’ve never entered a race where something hasn’t been hurting, but on the day it’s always fine