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Former IRONMAN World Champion Chelsea Sodaro “in a better place than I was last year after winning” following rocky season

Chelsea Sodaro shares her thoughts after a rocky season following her IRONMAN World Championship win in 2022.

Staff Reporter
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American Chelsea Sodaro made waves in the triathlon world when she won the IRONMAN World Championship title last season, but has endured a rocky year since which culminated with a sixth place finish at this year’s event.

The PTO World #11, who is coached by record breaking age grouper Dan Plews, has been very open about her struggles with anxiety following her victory and sought the assistance of a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In a recent interview on the Rich Roll podcast, Sodaro shared that she is now in a much better place than she was at the start of the season and despite the disappointment of not defending her title, takes pride in her performance in Kona this season.

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“It has been a rocky road with lots of mistakes”

Following a highly anticipated first race as the reigning IRONMAN World Champion at the start of the season in Oceanside, where Sodaro finished second, the American struggled in her next couple of races, dropping out of both the PTO Tour European Open and Challenge Roth.

Chelsea Sodaro IRONMAN World Championship 2023 Kona
American triathlete Chelsea Sodaro speaks at the press conference ahead of the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona (Getty Images for IRONMAN).

Sodaro said these performances were especially difficult to manage, as her win in Kona the previous season had given her the false impression that she had cracked the code to winning races, which in hindsight she says just didn’t hold true.

“I think when I’ve been in this game for so long, I should have known better, but you think that when you have a big success that it’s all up from here and that you’ve unlocked the recipe and now know how to win and keep on winning.

“However, that hasn’t been my experience this year, it has been a rocky road with lots of mistakes, there’s an element of luck in sport where the pendulum has to swing your way which just hasn’t happened for me this year, but ironically even after a disappointing race in Kona this season, I am in a better place than I was last year after winning.” 

“It took me a long time to find my mojo again”

Diving deeper into her race in Kona, Sodaro revealed that it took her a long time to get to a good mental headspace this year, with the numerous setbacks that befell her following some of the best training blocks of her life particularly hard to take.

“This year has been really hard from a performance standpoint. It took me a long time to find my mojo again with some of the mental health struggles I faced earlier in the year and I would have a training block where I thought I was back, but then I’d have some sickness or some injury or an obstacle and I would just tell myself that it’s fine and all I need to do is make it to Kona.

“I miraculously did that, I had the best training block of my life and then picked up an injury two weeks out from Kona. However, even as I saw the race slipping away from me, I didn’t quit on myself. I’m not happy with the result, but I’m really proud I gave it everything.” 

Looking ahead, Sodaro says she believes that her performance could be the catalyst for the next stage of her career, as she attempts to piece together the complex puzzle of being a professional triathlete chasing success at the highest level.

“I have never raced so hard for sixth place in my life. I was using all these tactics I used to do when I was running so I could bury myself, I think it will be a career defining moment for me as six months ago, I don’t think I would have had the mentality and headspace to do that.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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