Chrissie Welling­ton Triath­lete, 40

The Observer Magazine - - THIS WEEK'S USSUE - Interview MARTIN LOVE Pho­to­graph SHAMIL TANNA

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.the­

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

To read all the in­ter­views in this se­ries, go to ob­ this-much-i-know

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