Denmark's Helle Frederiksen, an Olympian, world-champion and multiple 70.3 winner, announces her retirement from professional racing.
August 8, 2019 | PERSONALITY|
Denmark's Helle Frederiksen always seemed to have it all. The looks of a model (which she did while she was in university), the brains of a PhD candidate (she turned down an opportunity to pursue a PhD after defending her Masters in Human Nutrtion to compete at the Olympics) and the talent and work ethic of a true champion. During her impressive pro career she claimed a world title in her home country, set a world-best time over the half-distance and wracked up numerous other accolades and victories.
“It’s been the most beautiful chapter of my life so far," Frederiksen said in a press release. "It’s been a dream come true and I consider myself so fortunate to have spent the past 11-years of my life, travelling the world and competing on the biggest stage the sport has to offer. I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished. I’m at peace with my achievements and I’m looking forward to forging new life chapters.”
Since representing Denmark at the Olympic Games in 2012, Frederiksen’s long-distance career has been impressive. Of the 41 international races that Frederiksen has completed since 2012, she landed on the podium 37 times. Amongst those finishes were the ITU Long Distance World Championship in Fyn, Denmark, a world championship silver medal at long distance worlds in Penticton, three European Championship silver medals, that world's-best half-distance time, two $100.000 prize purse victories and 10 Ironman 70.3 wins, including her recent win at Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau in Germany in June.
“The results are one thing, but the process of overcoming defeats, injuries and major challenges are what really makes big results all the more special," Frederiksen says. "It’s been an epic journey filled with the highest of highs and lowest of lows, but I’ve loved every minute of it. If an 11-year career as a world-class athlete has taught me anything it’s that we are capable of things far beyond what many people may believe. Early in my career I was told to stop. I was told to give up on my pursuit and start a family. I never wanted to give up and I never stopped believing in what I was capable of. We should never give up on something we believe in.”
A former competitive swimmer, Frederiksen was drawn to triathlon and would eventually fulfill her dream of competing at the Olympics.
“Competing in the Olympics was a childhood dream for me," she says. "Upon completion of my Master Degree, and having not realised my Olympic dream as a swimmer, I believed I could be successful at triathlon and make it to the Olympics. If I was to achieve this goal, it was to require full focus and full commitment. It’s for this reason I declined my PhD and opted for a career as a professional triathlete. I have no regrets. Little did I know back then that fulfilling my dream of becoming an Olympian would not be enough to make me content, and that I would go on to achieve major international success. I’ve achieved more than I could have ever dreamt of in the sport of Triathlon. I can look back with a tremendous sense of pride knowing that my focus, my determination and my will to succeed has enabled me to be one of the best in the world. This is special. I’ve poured my heart into being the best athlete I can be since 2008 and I feel rewarded for my dedication to be the best I can be.”
She had hoped to round out her career at Ironman Copenhagen on August 18th, but an injury sidelined that goal.
“For high-performance athletes it can often be a struggle to find true closure on our racing careers," she says. "Training and racing are what we identify ourselves with so it can be hard to let go. Initially I’d planned for Ironman Copenhagen to be a final at-home farewell race. Some weeks ago, I picked up a stress reaction on my tibia bone. I’d been motivated and dreaming of putting on one final show, it just wasn’t to be. Whilst disappointing, it’s been important for me to look forward. I have no need to persevere on in search of more results. I’m at peace with my accomplishments and I want to now focus my energy on celebrating all I have achieved and giving back to a sport that has given me so much.”
She's not worried about the next chapter in her life:
“Champions rarely rest in our pursuit to become better. When we win, our celebrations are often short lived in favour of new goal setting. When we lose, we drown ourselves in analysis to identify what went wrong and how we won’t lose again. When we fall, we get relentless in our pursuit to rise to the top again. These traits are what contributes to champions becoming champions in the first place. But champions can also struggle to re-identify themselves, we can struggle to move on, and we can be afraid of losing our champion status when it is we hang up our racing suits. This won’t be any different for me, a life without professional racing will take time to adjust to, but I feel my accomplishments in sport, the experiences I’ve gained and the feeling I’ve got nothing left to prove, makes me excited for what is now ahead.”
We can look forward to her autobiography in the near future - she has signed a book deal with Lindhardt & Ringhof publishing house.
“My immediate focus, beyond absorbing this decision, will be on giving back to the sport and especially to those who have supported my career. I will commence work on my autobiography in the coming weeks, as well as initiatives that will bring me closer to the community that surrounds the sport.”
Helle Frederiksen’s results and achievements summary: