There are titles and awards in the sport of triathlon that hold significant weight. One of those is anyone who wins a medal in the Olympics. That one’s all speed and tactics and very focused pain.

Another is becoming an IRONMAN World Champion. It has it’s tactics as well, but it’s mostly about endurance and managing the dull buildup of pain that just never lets up and only gets more intense as the day goes on. Michellie Jones from Australia became the first person to achieve both of these high, demanding standards.

Michellie Jones winning Silver at the 2000 Olympics.

She won the first ever silver medal in triathlons in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She missed gold by a scant 2-seconds! Six years later she was on the start line of her second IRONMAN in Kona.

The previous year in 2005 Michellie Jones had served notice that she meant business there. She’d made the transition from speed to endurance finishing in second place. Jones lead early but was passed late in the marathon by IRONMAN Legend Natascha Badmann. Her second place finish was a small margin by IRONMAN standards, just 2:30 behind Badmann.

Michellie Jones now had IRONMAN fever! She commented:

“For someone who never really understood and was ultimately terrified of why anyone would want to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles in a swim suit and then run 42.2km a marathon in the heat, humidity, gale force winds in the lava fields of Kona I got it now.”
“I know why people want to do the Ironman especially in Hawaii. And let me tell you there is nothing you can compare to running down Ali’i Drive at the end of the IRONMAN. It’s the stuff you will never ever forget.”

The story would end at the pinnacle in 2006. She took charge of the race early and never let go. A blistering swim, a near perfect bike and a run that never let up and Michellie Jones found herself running down Ali’i Drive on her own in the lead.

Was it emotional? Here’s how she described the experience:

“With every step toward the finish the smile on my face got bigger and bigger. Then the tears start to fall some in total disbelief that I about to win something I never thought I wanted to but more importantly I never believed I could. The emotion of what I was about to achieve was so, so overwhelmingly awesome!!!!!”
“I could hear Mike Reilly “The Voice of IRONMAN” before I could even see him or the finish. The crowd in the road moved apart like clouds opening up and letting the sun shine through, letting me run through.”
“Then I could see the actual finish chute. It was a sea of blue. The conches were being blown. Hawaiians were running in front of me carrying torches. The crowd was on their feet screaming my name. I raised my hands and covered my mouth almost in disbelief but also in astounding excitement of what was about to happen…”
“Yes!!!….. I am an IRONMAN and Yes, I am going to become an IRONMAN World Champion!!!!”

Here’s Michellie sharing that emotion with us a few years later as she looked back on her victory.

Michellie Jones is a Top-40 Greatest Moment at IRONMAN because of how incredibly difficult it is to excel at both the Olympic distance and the IRONMAN distance, but she did both. Michellie is an Olympic medalist. She’s also an IRONMAN World Champion. 
“There is no way I could have achieved any of this without the help and support of Coach Paula Newby-Fraser. She turned my mindset and body from speed demon to an IRONMAN diesel engine!”
To learn more about what Michellie is doing now click HERE.
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About the author Mark Allen More information on the author

I am the Founder and CEO at Mark Allen Coaching. I am proud to have been voted in an ESPN global poll "The Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time." During my multi-sport career I won the Ironman Triathlon World Championship six time, the inaugural Triathlon World Championship at the Olympic Distance in Avignon, France, and at one point in my career I won 21 straight races across every derivation and distance. It was a great career, but that's all it would ever be unless I was able to share all of the experience and methodology we invented long before smart watches, power meters, and flashy uniforms. That's why I started Mark Allen Coaching, as a way to return to others at least the part of the gifts I received.