Lehtonen signs up with Siri Lindley

Kaisa Lehtonen surprised many people with her impressive fifth place finish in Kona and her big win at the Ironman African Championship in South Africa in 2016. Now she'll be working with one of the sport's premier coaches.

| January 16, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

How's this for a bit of news that almost snuck by us at the beginning of the year: last year's impressive fifth-place finisher in Kona, Kaisa Lehtonan, will be coached by Siri Lindley. Here's a post Lindley made on social media:

Team Sirius is thrilled to welcome @kaisa.lehtonen to the team in 2017. Kaisa, a Finnish long course triathlete, comes off a very successful 2016 season with a big win at the Ironman African Championship at Nelson Mandela Bay, S.A and a 5th place finish at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI. Kaisa is an incredible person and exceptional athlete and races with great passion for the sport, and the opportunity to influence positive change in the world. Kaisa is a member of the "Team Sport for Good." Proudly wearing the Sport For Good badge to spread the Laureus message ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ Follow Kaisa's journey here, and on her website, www..kaisalehtonen.com. Welcome to the team, Kaisa, let the incredible adventure begin!!! Here's to 2017!!

Lehtonen made no bones about her admiration for one of Lindley's most famous charges, Mirinda Carfrae, at the post-race press conference in Kona last year. Here's what she had to say when we spoke with her after her big day:

I had just an amazing day – it was a suffer fest, but it was fun anyway. I took the swim a bit too easily, so I had lots of power starting the bike. I went out way too hard on the bike. When I started the run – my legs were feeling really good. I am a fan of Mirinda and so I went out way too hard. Fifth, in my first time here with these incredible girls, is amazing and I’m really, really happy.

Lehtonen was just a few seconds behind Carfrae through the turnaround on Alii Drive, but by the 13-mile point of the marathon had lost two minutes on the Australian. In the end Lehtonen's 3:03 marathon was about five minutes slower than Carfrae.

From Helsinki, Finland, Lehtonen competed over the Olympic distance from 2007 to 2012 before turning her sights to longer distance racing. She won the Finnish middle-distance championship in 2013, finished third at Challenge Walchsee and then took sixth at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship in Wiesbaden.

In 2014 she finished second at the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Weihai, China.

A year later she made her full-distance debut with an impressive runner-up finish at Ironman Barcelona, where she clocked 8:48:40 - amongst the fastest ever debuts over the distance.

After her impressive 2016 season, Lehtonen will be one to watch in 2017, especially under the guidance of Lindley, who has coached Carfrae to three Kona titles and also coached Leanda Cave when she took Kona in 2012.