TRIATHLON queen Chrissie Wellington is an unbeaten four-time world champion who holds every meaningful record in her event.
But while 55 other female athletes prepare to line up for the Olympic triathlon along Serpentine Lake on August 4 as part of world’s biggest sporting spectacle, the 34-year-old will be sat watching the action from the sidelines.
The main reason for her omission is the disclipline Wellington has dominated since her debut world championship win in 2007, the Ironman triathlon competition, is not yet a recognised Olympic event.
Arguably the toughest competition in sport, the event — made up of a gruelling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon — dwarfs the existing Olympic distances of a 1,500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
After becoming the greatest female athlete ever to compete in the Ironman discipline, the argument could be made Wellington would have a strong chance of claiming a gold medal, but the former Thetford Dolphins swimmer strongly disagrees.
“The skill set from doing an Ironman to other triathlons is very different and I am just more suited to what I do,” she said. “I do what I enjoy and for me I have four Olympic gold medals because I have four world championships.
“That is our Olympics, it is where the best in the world meet, so for me that means more than anything and I see that as my Olympic achievement.
“I don’t think me believing I could compete in the Olympics is giving enough respect to people that have trained so hard for so long to get there in their chosen sport.
“For me to sit here and say I could go and qualify for the Olympics in whatever sport I chose to do would be bombastic, brash and slightly arrogant.
“Would I have dreamt of it? Maybe, but I have a sport that I love and I appreciate my value more just knowing that I have succeeded in a sport that I have chosen.
“I don’t need an Olympic gold medal to validate my ability as an athlete.”
Unlike most sports people at the top of their game, Wellington, who was awarded an MBE, never set out to become a four-time world champion.
And despite still harbouring the hunger to succeed at the highest level, the world record holder has admitted she is not targeting her fifth Ironman title as she is set to challenge herself away from the triathlon discipline.
“It is a very surreal feeling to be four-times world champion because it is something I never intended to happen,” she added.
“I found triathlon accidentally and found it was something I was blessed with and had a talent for and I just feel so incredibly fortunate and blessed.
“I haven’t planned my fifth world title because I don’t put numbers to my ambitions — numbers don’t matter to me.
“I just want to do what I love, and reach my best potential to be what I can be.
“I want to embrace different challenges as well as triathlon, which means I will not be doing as many triathlons next year, but that will be replaced by other endurance challenges.
“I have been speaking to a lot of people about possibilities and I want to be open to those and be able to embrace those.
“You need change, challenges and excitement. My life has always been like that. Five years ago, I never would have expected to be sitting where I am, so who can predict what things will be like in five years time.”