TRIATHLON queen Chrissie Wellington has etched her name further into history after smashing her own Ironman world record in South Africa – but believes she can go faster still.
The 34-year-old, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, says her personal achievement on Sunday can leave a lasting legacy to women in sport and inspire athletes all over the globe.
An incredible swim, bike and run in Port Elizabeth on Sunday saw Wellington, MBE, register a ground-breaking final time of 8hrs 33mins 56 secs, shaving a full two minutes and 17 seconds off her previous record, set in Arizona last November.
Such was her romp to victory, the three-time world champion finished the Specsavers Ironman Africa 35 minutes ahead of her nearest rival after running a faster marathon than any of the male competitors at 2hrs 52mins 54 secs.
The former Thetford Dolphins swimmer, who finished eighth including the men’s field, told the Bury Free Press she had never thought the world record was capable of being challenged on a notoriously slow course in Port Elizabeth, in scorching temperatures of 30C.
“To break the world record was a huge surprise to me and I am incredibly happy,” she said, speaking from South Africa ahead of flying back to celebrate with her family in Feltwell.
“It is not just for my personal gratification, it raises the bar once again for women in sport and, hopefully, it can prove an inspiration to others.”
Wellington broke her own record just weeks after publishing her drug testing history on her website in a bid to prove “athletes can achieve great things” in an anti-doping campaign.
In South Africa, Wellington, dubbed the Chrisinator, exited the water in 51mins 40secs, before a strong bike put her on the path to immortality, ahead of her blistering run, which ensured she made history.
“It was a mixture of emotions as it always is,” said Wellington, who rolled across the line in memory of her great American friend Jon Blaise, taken by Motor Neurone Disease.
Blaise managed to complete an Ironman had told Wellington he would finish even if she had to roll him over the line, which she never had to.
Wellington, who spent five hours after the race handing out medals to every finisher not in the elite race, is already back in training for a half Ironman in the US in June.
In November, she had lowered the Ironman-distance world record to 8hrs 19 mins 13secs.
Asked if she can go faster in the Ironman than her latest record, her answer was emphatic and brief: “Yes. I think I can.”
n ELVEDEN Estate, near Bury St Edmunds, is opening an off-road triathlon course for an event entitled the Tear Jerker on Sunday, May 22, with the course designers claiming it will be the biggest and most demanding in East Anglia.
Anyone interested in the free event, to give feedback on the course for next year, should contact Ruth Sayer on 01842 898049.