Daniela Ryf is the most dominant triathlete of her generation. Now, after a performance at this year’s Kona World Championship that can only be described as epic and that saw her clinch a fourth consecutive world title and shattered her own overall course record, she’s confidently (and unintentionally, the modest Swiss star would say) thrown her name into the conversation of determining the greatest triathlete of all time. We sat down with Daniela a few days after her historic win to hear about the race day from her unique point of view, in her own words. You don’t want to miss the video interview below...
“The start of the race was definitely the biggest challenge of my race. I got stung by a jellyfish two minutes before the start.”
You can train all year, arrive at Kona on the best form of your life, but you’re still at the mercy of elements beyond your control. In Daniela’s case, she was stung underneath her armpits while treading water prior to the cannon blast that signals the start of the Kona swim. While her swim was well off her normal pace, it was an astounding display of tenacity and grit, considering the toxic venom coursing through her arms, and set her up for an epic day of racing on the bike and run.
“To be honest, at that point, I thought, ‘I have to finish this race, to honor this race and be a champion.’”
Heading into the 2018 Kona World Championship, Daniela was already a three-time champion and the overall course record holder, and had therefore already cemented her legacy as one of the best triathletes in history. She had nothing left to prove. But what makes her a true champion is that she continually pushes the boundaries of her own physical limits and mental fortitude, and always seeks to honor her sport’s greatest race.
“I felt that the power was there, and I felt under control… And I felt so fast. I felt that crosswind from the back, and especially with the IA Disc. It’s such a good feeling because you get that sailing effect, and I felt fantastic. That’s what I like to do, hammering the bike and feeling really fast.”
Daniela exited the swim leg nearly 10 minutes behind her top rival, Lucy Charles, who had beaten the Kona swim course record. Putting her head down on the bike and doing the work, Daniela rode out of her mind, catching Lucy Charles and passing her like, in the words of one photographer on course, “like Lucy was standing still.” Daniela then proceeded to keep the pedal to the metal and rode to a new Kona bike course record.
“To smash that record by almost 20 minutes… No, I never believed that was possible.”
When the dust settled at the end of a historic day of racing across all fronts, Daniela broke her own Kona overall course record from 2016 by nearly 20 minutes!
“This island and this race changed my life, and I’m very grateful for that, and that’s way it’s always so special to come back here.”
‘Nuff said. All hail the Queen of Kona, Daniela Ryf.
The Pass. Daniela Ryf, aboard her IA Disc, soars past rival Lucy Charles on the Queen K Highway, en route to her fourth consecutive Kona World Championship.
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