The greatest athlete on the planet?

I came across this article in today’s press suggesting that David Beckham is on course to be Knighted at the end of the year. One quote in particular caught my attention “I can’t think of anyone in sport more fitting to be awarded a knighthood than David Beckham.. he has been a fantastic ambassador for the sport both on and off the field, a true gentleman and role model.”

Firstly who am I to argue, Becks is a legend and apart from the occasional discretion has been a fantastic role model. However I think there’s a British sportsperson who is more worthy of this esteemed honour than old golden balls. She has dominated her sport in the same way that Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher have, she is renowned for competing with a smile on her face and for inspiring people all over the world and is actively involved with a number of international development charities. Her name is Chrissie Wellington and, to use a boxing phrase, I think she’s the best pound for pound athlete on the planet.

Chrissie is the only triathlete, male or female, to have won the Ironman World Championship less than a year after turning professional. She has lowered the world record time every time she has raced one of the toughest events, Challenge Roth in Germany, she has gone on to win the World Championships three times in a row and has never been beaten at the Ironman distance. Let me just repeat that.. she has never been beaten in an Ironman distance race. An ironman race involves swimming 3.8km, riding 180km and running a marathon. There is so much that can go wrong from mechanical problems, bad weather, accidents etc and despite all this she has never lost a race. In fact it’s a foregone conclusion that if Chrissie races she will win. Federer lost the occasional game, Woods the same but I can’t recall anyone who has dominated their sport like Chrissie, especially such an unpredictable and high risk game like Ironman.

Chrissie’s performances this year have been even more remarkable. At Ironman South Africa in April she beat her own world record by 2 minutes, beat the second placed female by 35 minutes, finished 8th overall and ran the fastest marathon time of the day (men and women). At Challenge Roth in Germany in July she again beat her own world record, finished 5th overall (men and women) and the only person who ran a faster marathon was the overall winner and he needed a new world record time to beat her.

The reality is if Chrissie competed in another sport she would be one of the most well-known athletes on the planet but triathlon just doesn’t have the same profile. I would love to see the British press get behind a campaign to lift her profile and the British people rally support for her inclusion in the new years honours list. She’s a true champion and will go down in history as one of the greats, lets not wait until she retires to realise this.

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2 Comments

  1. The other thing with Wellington is her absolute openness with regards to drug testing. One could argue it’s forced due to just how good she is, but she doesn’t have to post the results nor speak about it. Especially when compared to the hilarity of it in cycling.

    Plus the way she came in to the sport makes her a hugely accessible role model too. Not in the LA lifestyle and posh wife way of Becks.

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