Chrissie lifs world iron woman title

When she was a schoolgirl, Chrissie Wellington was more focused on her studies than playing sports.But the triathlete is making up for lost time after swimming, cycling, and running to victory in a gruelling 140mile endurance race to retain her world 'Iron Woman' crown.

When she was a schoolgirl, Chrissie Wellington was more focused on her studies than playing sports.

But the triathlete is making up for lost time after swimming, cycling, and running to victory in a gruelling 140mile endurance race to retain her world 'Iron Woman' crown.

The Norfolk-raised athlete, who only began competing in triathlons four years ago, now hopes to inspire more people to get into the growing sport after winning the women's title at the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii for the second year in a row.

The 31-year-old, who returned to her family home in Norfolk over the weekend, swam 2.4miles, cycled 112miles and ran a full marathon distance - the equivalent of travelling from Yarmouth to London - in just over nine hours to win the world title earlier this month. The trophy is now being put to good use as a fruit bowl at her parents' house at Feltwell, near Thetford.

Miss Wellington, who is taking a well-earned four week break from training, said said she was “surprised” and “overwhelmed” with her success after turning professional in 2006.

The globetrotting Iron Woman, who is set to train in America and Australia next year, is hoping to use her newfound stardom to promote the British triathlon movement. She also hopes to compete in the shorter Olympic triathlon distance in London in four years time.

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Miss Wellington said she always took part in sports as a social activity, but after university began to realise that she had a talent for endurance activities and became “obsessed” with Ironman competitions.

“I never imagined I would reach these heights. I am less daunted by a long distance race than a short sprint. I come off the bike after 112miles and I think 'amazing, now I've got a marathon to race'. In the end you are surprised how quickly nine hours goes. I just love the challenge of being on my own against everyone and the elements,” she said.

Miss Wellington, who went to Feltwell Primary and Downham Market High School and Sixth Form, competed in school sports teams and was a member of the Thetford Dolphins swimming club, but always channelled her main energies into her studies.

She began running whilst studying a master's degree at the University of Manchester and in 2002 completed her first London Marathon in just over three hours. In 2004, whilst working as an international development officer for Defra, Miss Wellington competed in her first triathlon and turned pro two years later after winning the World Amateur Championship in Switzerland.

She won the European Ironman Championship in Germany earlier this year, before successfully defending her world crown in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, despite a ten minute delay caused by a flat bicycle tyre.

Miss Wellington said she would not be taking her success for granted and hoped to compete in Ironman events until her late 30s.

“I will continue to train hard and want to get faster and I want to use my position to be a role model for British sport, women in sport and British triathlon. Ironman and Olympic triathlons are like different sports and require different skill sets, but I would be foolish not to look into the possibility of getting to London 2012 and I have time on my side,” she said.

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