When Daniela Ryf finished 10th at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside earlier this month it was another sign that she may no longer be the seemingly invincible force of old.
The Swiss superstar trailed in well beaten at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship last summer, after which she took a long break to get her body right again.
She said she was feeling more like her old self before she finished second behind German star Laura Philipp on her reappearance at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai in March. But the heavy defeat which followed in California (she was later disqualified for speeding) in early April had alarm bells ringing again.
Two-time IRONMAN World Champion Chris McCormack gave his verdict on where Ryf’s career stands in a preview of the huge IRONMAN World Championship showdown in St George on May 7 for the TRI247 newsletter.
Ryf standard slipping?
He started by re-iterating that you never write off somebody who has achieved what Daniela has in the sport. But he admits there is reason to ask questions about what her future holds.
“Look, you never bet against the champion, ever. Especially someone who’s done what Daniela has done in her career. But the standard she set has made us question when she doesn’t get the performances we’re used to seeing from her.
“Is this the end of Daniela Ryf? She hasn’t had a great performance in a major championship race. She won races last year in controlled fields, but when everyone’s come together and all the big stars have come out to play, she hasn’t won.
Daniela is vulnerable now
“That defeat in Kona 2019, we talked about it as a group. That was the beginning of her vulnerability. She left her coach, which is a big move, and she hasn’t been the same since but we haven’t had much to see because the pandemic hid that dynamic. So we can only look at the last three big events: Dubai, Oceanside, and 70.3 Worlds. The big races, she’s been well off the pace.”
While McCormack does feel it’s difficult to bet against somebody like Ryf, he does feel she no longer has the invincible aura which probably had some athletes beaten before the start.
“I don’t bet against her, but I just believe the women are no longer as intimidated as they were before, and that makes you much more vulnerable than you otherwise would have been in the past, when people didn’t fear you as much as they potentially should.”