Saemmler's win at Challenge Roth a dream come true

Daniela Saemmler stepped out of her comfort zone when she declared she would go after the German full-distance record at Challenge Roth. Not only did she get that, she won the race.

| July 3, 2018 | PERSONALITY

Daniela Saemmler wins Challenge Roth.

Daniela Saemmler wins Challenge Roth.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

"It’s one day after the race and I’m still overwhelmed," Daniela Saemmler said after the Challenge Roth awards ceremony. "I can’t believe it."

Emotions ran high from athletes, fans and sponsors alike with Saemmler's huge win on the weekend that saw her take a thrilling nine-second win over pre-race favorite Lucy Charles.

Daniela Saemmler and Lucy Charles collapse at the line at Challenge Roth. Just nine seconds separated the two.

Daniela Saemmler and Lucy Charles collapse at the line at Challenge Roth. Just nine seconds separated the two.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

"I’ve dreamed of winning here all my life, but this year it wasn’t expected with the field competing here," Saemmler said. "I knew I was in good shape and I also said before the race that I wanted to do a fast race and break the German record which has stood for 10 years. I don’t think a lot of people thought I could do it."

Saemmler admits that talking about the record attempt wasn't her normal style, but going after the fast time helped her focus on the minor details that make the difference. That focus helped her to an 8:43:42 record-setting time, breaking Sandra Wallenhorst's 8:47:26 set at Ironman Austria in 2008.

"I said it because I really believed that I could do it, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it. Everything needs to be perfect to go that fast, but I knew that I was capable of it. It provided good motivation for me. It made me think of all the little details. Dreaming of the win was something all athletes do, but going into the details really helped."

The win marked Saemmler's third full-distance title - she won Ironman Mallorca in 2015 and Ironman Hamburg last year. Hers has not been a traditional journey to the top step of the podium. After giving birth to her son, Marlon, seven years ago she decided to stop pursuing a physio therapy degree and instead focus on triathlon. A number of sponsors stepped up to help make that possible, including the Erdinger Alkoholfrei - manager Wenke Kujala put Saemmler on the development team after Marlon was born.

Last February Saemmler also had a health scare when she had to have a tumor removed from her thyroid gland. She's regained both her health and her form since then, though.

With Marlon starting school last year Saemmler found it difficult to get away for training camps through the winter, which is why she's focused her season on Roth and Hamburg - "I couldn't be fit in April," she said.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

For Saemmler the dream win on the weekend was very much a team effort - those supportive sponsors, her father who came to Roth to help watch Marlon and a support team that she's built up over the last few years.

"I have a really professional team behind me," she said. "We worked a lot on my bike position, which was a key to the success, not only for the speed on the bike, but also because it helped me for the run. Now it’s also their success because we did it together."