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Christine Ann Wellington (born 18 February 1977), also known as Chrissie Wellington, is an English triathlete who is the world record holder for ironman-distance triathlon races. She is the current and three-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, having won the World Championship consecutively in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She is noted for having won the World Championship less than a year after turning professional, an achievement which has been described as “a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships.” She is also the first British athlete to hold the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, and remains undefeated over the Ironman distance.
In addition to the Ironman titles, she was also the 2006 ITU Age Group World Champion and the 2008 ITU long-distance World Champion.
After winning the world amateur title, Wellington began to consider becoming a professional, which would mean giving up her job. In January 2007, on the recommendation of a friend, she travelled to Switzerland to ask the opinion of the renowned and controversial Australian triathlon coach, Brett Sutton. Within 5 days she had handed in her notice at DEFRA, and in February 2007 flew out to Thailand to join Sutton’s teamTBB at their base in Phuket.
She turned professional with the intention of racing standard-distance events, and enjoyed early success, winning Olympic-distance events in Bangkok and Subic Bay, then returned to the UK where she won the sprint-distance event at Bleinheim. Later the same month she entered her first longer-distance event, the UK half-Ironman race at Wimbleball, but suffered mechanical problems with her bicycle (forcing her to climb the steep Exmoor hills in too high a gear) and finished in 5th place. She returned to winning form only six days later, at the shorter Zurich triathlon.
On 1 August 2007, Wellington took on her toughest challenge to date, the long-distance Alpe d’Huez triathlon, known for its difficult summer heat, its altitude, and its hard climbs on both the bike and running stages. Despite a puncture and being forced off the road by an oncoming vehicle during a fast descent, she finished the bike stage 19 mins 30 sec in front of her nearest rival, Sione Jongstra, and extended her lead on the running stage to win the race by over 29 minutes, in 9th place overall.
Towards the end of July, her coach had suggested that she was ready for an Ironman, despite the relatively low volume of her training. She said of Sutton, “my training was more geared to standard distance, with not much high volume. I don’t seem to need high-volume work like three-hour runs. I’ve done none of these since I’ve been with Brett. Some of the other girls will. This is why he is so special: he has an ability to spot potential even if the athlete can’t. He said I was ready even on the training I was doing.”
After 10 days of acclimatisation at her team’s base in Thailand, Wellington won Ironman Korea, in very hot conditions, finishing over 50 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Yasuko Miyazaki, in 7th place overall. By winning this race, she earned a slot to race at the Ironman world championships in Hawaii.