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‘Mission accomplished’ and Sebi Kienle ‘happy’ with retirement timing

German legend in a good place as he reflects on an incredible career on triathlon's biggest stage - and an emotional finale.

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Redefining triathlon

“Even if things didn’t go according to the script, it was still a happy end.”

That’s the emotional and reflective view of triathlon legend Sebastian Kienle three weeks after his last big race in the sport at Challenge Roth.

The German announced his retirement last year and is enjoying a farewell season, ticking off a number of bucket list races in the process.

‘Mission accomplished’

None bigger – or with more meaning to him – than Roth, where his career really took off in 2010.

He would go on to win both the IRONMAN World Championship and 70.3 world titles as well as claiming victory at Roth in 2018 among countless other successes.

Or as he puts it in this latest episode of his ‘Discontinued’ series, embedded below: “When I started the sport I had the dream of becoming a world champion and one of the best guys in the sport. My life played according to my script. I would say mission accomplished.”

But this time he didn’t finish on the podium at Roth as he crossed the line in 14th place to the biggest cheers of the day – and in many ways the position didn’t matter.

He explains: “For this very last year I also had a script – a lot of things did not go according to the script. A lot of things didn’t work out – I was always close but always something happened and this was the case for the very last race in Roth as well.

“It’s even good that I’m not winning these races – if I’d won Challenge Roth then I don’t think I would have been able to retire! Now I see that I have no chance against guys like Magnus [Ditlev] anymore.

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‘A relief to be honest’

“When I walked back to my homestay after I finished in Roth I caught myself thinking what do I have to do next year to be able to beat guys like Magnus and Gustav [Iden, the current IRONMAN World Champion] – where can I find another half a percent here and there?

“And then I realised I don’t have to anymore, it’s fine. And this was really a relief to be honest.

In the past it was always a motivation, I had to push harder, find another gear and now I’m happy that I don’t have to.

And it’s clear that the incredible send off in Roth meant so much to Kienle: “I’m really thankful to Felix [Walchshöfer, the race director] and the whole crew and what they did for me – on a weekend like that you have an emotional overflow almost. It’s so intense and difficult to really digest.

“You never can press rewind on your life but I have this video and that’s the coolest thing – that I can just watch it and go through it again and that’s pretty nice. Then I can give myself the time to enjoy it.”

Sebi Kienle finish line Challenge Roth 2023 photo credit: Challenge Roth
An emotional Sebi Kienle signs off at Challenge Roth [Photo credit: Challenge Roth]
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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