The Kat Matthews comeback: Coach Björn Geesmann on ‘an emotional rollercoaster’

We speak to the man who has played a key role in helping British star work her way back to top shape.

News Director
Last updated -

There would be few more dramatic storylines at Saturday’s IRONMAN World Championship than a Kat Matthews victory.

She was runner-up in the rescheduled event in St George in May 2022 but has spent the last 12 months rebuilding her health and fitness after she was left in hospital with a raft of serious injuries after a person drove their car into her when she was on a training ride in Texas last September.

Few know just what she’s been through better than her coach Björn Geesmann, who was with her at every point of the journey.

Strength of character

We asked him first about the character and determination she has shown over the last 12 months.

He told us: “Kat is without a doubt physically a very strong athlete when it comes to numbers, power outputs or speed. Even more than that, she is one of the mentally most focused, stable and clear athletes I have ever met.

“After such an accident, the physical rehabilitation is a thing that is highly dependent on the mental health and rehabilitation and this in my opinion has been one of the key aspects for her coming back to a high pro level in that short period of time.

“During the whole time she could clearly capture her emotions, while having a focus on the next steps and overall goals.

She is extremely strong and so she has been even in the physically most complicated times of her life.

“It’s been impressive to see and experience – also from the inner circle.”


Return to Texas a line in the sand

All of which must make it all the more rewarding to see the incredible progress she’s made in a relatively short space of time, with Björn telling me that the moment she won IRONMAN Texas in April, just a mile or so from where a person had driven into her and left her in hospital, was a hugely significant point in the journey.

Kat Matthews high fives IRONMAN Texas finish line 2023
Kat high-fives as she approaches the finish line in Texas [Photo credit: Kyle Rivas / Getty Images for IRONMAN]

He explained: “She is probably in a better shape than ever, which makes me extremely happy for her. Sure you never know what the outcome is and it all comes down to this one day of racing against the best in the world.

“But the whole process up to Texas, the time since then and now the build-up to Kona is already a win for me.

“Up until Texas sure, we were even more sensitive when it comes to pain. But honestly after Texas – in terms of training – it started again on a blank page without thinking too much of injuries and accidents. If you can win an Ironman in that style, you are obviously fit and healthy.”


Dealing with the emotions

And I ask Björn what he has learnt from the whole experience: “A lot. Especially sometimes how to deal with my own emotions in the whole process as I was part of the accident by being on her side in the hospital right after.

“When you want to produce world-class performances, emotions are important but sometimes limiting, if they slow you down. During that time I often trusted Kat’s feedback more than my own point of view or emotions as she was often the better ‘controller’ or observer of her own feedback. That was an interesting part of the whole process!

“And then – beside ‘learning’ – the whole way up to Texas was an amazing and also emotional experience. From holding her nearly fallen-off ear while it got stitched with 20 stitches, through to giving her a high-five 50 metres before crossing the IRONMAN Texas finish line as the winner, was an amazing emotional rollercoaster.

“I am very thankful that I was able to experience this with especially Kat and also Mark [Matthews, Kat’s husband].”

Kat Matthews TRI247 interview:

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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