Finally back in Kona: Daniela Ryf aims for strong showing at World Championships
After two consecutive postponements, the Ironman World Championships are returning to Hawaii with Daniela Ryf looking to defend the title, she most recently won in Utah this Spring. The 35-year-old from Solothurn is aiming for her sixth world championship title on October 6, a Swiss record currently held by Natascha Badmann.
It’s been three years since world’s best triathletes gathered on Big Island for the biggest highlight of their season. In 2020, the World Championships fell victim to the Corona pandemic, in 2021 the competition had to be cancelled and re-scheduled for St. George (Utah) in May of 2022. In this first staging outside Hawaii, Daniela Ryf prevailed. Now, almost exactly five months later, the two-time Swiss Sportswoman of the Year will have the opportunity to defend her World Championship title yet again. “St. George was satisfying on a personal level", Ryf recalls, "after enduring physical and health problems, it was incredibly nice to perform the way I did at the World Championships." Capturing her fifth world championship title, she was able to end a difficult stretch of her career - including the cancellation of multiple competitions - behind her while opening a new chapter.
This new chapter is now called "title defense". In preparation, Daniela Ryf trained in St. Moritz for two months. "My stint in the Swiss mountains was incredibly beneficial", says the triathlete from Feldbrunnen. "My heart and lungs are performing at a very high level now." Then in early September, Ryf made the trip to Maui, Big Island’s neighbor, to continue her training. Since the beginning of September, Ryf has now been training on Maui, the neighboring island of Big Island, as she needs just under four weeks to acclimate to local conditions. "So far, everything is going very well. I was able to adapt to the heat and humidity. Training hard in these conditions is brutal, but my body needs this, as experience has shown."
Ryf will not fly to Kona until five days before the race, so she can train in peace and away from the hustle and bustle of the world championships. "I've been able to enjoy training over the past few months and I am coming in with an incredibly positive attitude. I feel strong in all three disciplines and just want to show what I am capable off. I haven't been to Hawaii for three years now and want to perform at my absolute best." For the first time, the Ironman World Championships will be held over two days. The women’s race will start on Oct. 6, while the men will follow two days later.
Equalizing Badmann's record
With a victory in Hawaii, Ryf would not only become the first triathlete to win two World Championship titles in a span of five months, but also equalize Natascha Badmann's Swiss record. The 55-year-old from Oftringen won the Ironman World Championship six times between 1998 and 2005. Only Paula Newby-Fraser (ZWE/USA) was more successful than the two Swiss women with eight titles.
However, project “title defense" will certainly not be an easy one. As the defending champion, Daniela Ryf will be tested and expects strong competition in Hawaii: Anne Haug (GER/Ironman winner 2019) and Laura Philipp (GER/Long Distance European Champion 2021 and 2022) will be there as well as Lucy Charles from Great Britain, who is back after an injury break of several months.