It was a day German professional triathlete Sebastian Kienle had only dreamed of, despite having always threatened to do. Winning the Ironman World Championship is something the uber biker liked to think he was capable of, although a wavering self confidence stood in the way of true belief in his ability. Kienle is now the 2014 Ironman World Champion, yesterday using his phenomenal bike strength to blow the field apart.
In the pre race press conference Kienle joked about the weather prediction surrounding the race, and with an air of confidence announced “the tougher the better”. It appears the German’s wish was granted, with possibly some of the toughest conditions thrown at athletes on race day. Intense heat, high humidity and strong winds saw mother nature test each and every athlete, and turned this years Ironman World Championship into a race of attrition.
Speaking post race Kienle gave credit to a late change in mindset, having turned a negative mindset following his disappointing race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, into a positive mindset on race day.
“I am pretty, pretty good when I have my good days, and pretty, pretty bad when I have my bad days! You can have a completely different mindset one day to another”.
“Sure I was having doubts after Mont Tremblant. The 70.3 worlds wereÂ not a build up race for me like many assumed, I had thought I could win. It really raised some doubts, when you come here, and everyone looks so fit, and everyone looks skinnier. There is nothing I can do to change my body type, but it doesn’t help your head when everyone else looks so skinny, and so fit.”
Kienle not only had self doubt the month leading into Kona, but also suffered a running injury which left him short on the miles he had planned.
“I couldn’t put the hard work in I had wanted to”.
Perhaps a lesson for any athlete here, with Kienle going on to smash the field despite this self doubt, limited training, and self imposed “handicap” from a body he saw as less than ideal for his chosen sport.
“The hardest part is believing in yourself. If I’m in bad shape but a good mindset, I can race well. But if I’m 100% fit and have a bad mindset, then that is not good for me. I am much better off being a little less fit, but with a positive mindset. You have to believe. Luckily I turned my negative mindset around just before the race”.
On coming into the race with pressure to perform on his shoulders, Kienle shrugged it off:
“Of course there was more pressure than in the previous 2 years, but, well, I guess I handled it pretty well!” (chuckling)
If Kienle’s victory was a surprise to himself, Ben Hoffman’s second place was a surprise of epic proportions to the triathlon community, following a relatively quiet week in the media for the young American who flew under the radar. Although an accomplished athlete, Hoffman’s race resume isn’t one you’d put money on the performance he delivered yesterday. In 2009 Hoffman finished 56th in 9:29:54, 2010 42nd in 9:03:29, 2011 he DNF’d, didn’t start in 2012, and in 2013 saw a massive improvement to finish 15th in 8:36:25. Yesterday Hoffman finished 2nd in 8:19:23 in what were some of the toughest conditions yet raced in on the island of Kona.
Questioned on his race plan, and if he should have tried to go with Kienle on the bike:
“To think I could have gone with sebastian is nieve I think. I did roll the dice a little though, like on the way up to Hawi. I took opportunities when they presented. I rode with Frederick up to Hawi, and that worked out well”.
“In Hawaii you have to be smart, you have to race YOUR own race”.
2008 Olympic Gold medalist Jan Frodeno secured the final place on the podium, despite puncturing in the early stages of the bike.
“The legends surroundingÂ Kona, very deserving, they’re very true”.
“I’m super ecstatic with my race today. Things did not go perfectly well for me today, not all the time anyway”.
With a little humour Frodeno entertained the media with his story telling:
“The reason I didn’t give up when things didn’t go well today, especially when I passed my house and wanted to run inside; well, you see they only hand out sweet stuff on the course, and I like alcohol free beer for hydration. Geez, I really feel like a beer right now! I get sick of the sweet stuff. So going home was very tempting. Sorry … thats just a side story….Â No, no, the real reason I kept racing, is out of respect for the former and current world champions. To pay respect”.
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||Tim Van Berkel
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