Interview with Triathlete Kirsten Sweetland

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Kirsten Sweetland’s story is nothing short of inspiring. About 7 years ago, Kirsten became the youngest Canadian to win a World Cup race at the age of 18. This major win made her a rising star in the triathlon world and she was well on track to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, she fainted 400m away from the finish line of a qualifying race and therefore she missed out on the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ever since then, and for the next five years, Kirsten suffered from one injury after another.  At one point, she wasn’t sure if she would ever get an opportunity to race again and realize her true potential as an athlete. She suffered many stress fractures, a torn plantar fascia and food allergies.

However, despite all the setbacks, Kirsten continued her pursuit of athletic excellence and it all came together for her on July 24, 2014 when she crossed the finish line to take the silver medal in the women’s triathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She won Canada’s first medal in this year’s games, making the whole country proud.

Less than two weeks before the Commonwealth Games, Kirsten took the bronze medal in a World Triathlon Series event in Hamburg.

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Her story may be one of the best comeback stories I’ve ever heard. At this rate, I foresee great things for her in Rio 2016.

Kirsten’s perseverance is a great lesson to everyone, from beginners to elite athletes. She is living proof that any challenge can be overcome when you are genuinely passionate about what you are doing. She never gave up and that’s admirable.

I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Kirsten and share it with you.

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Yana: What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
KS: Junior World Championship gold medal 2006, Mooloolaba World Cup gold medal 2009, Hamburg World Triathlon Series bronze medal 2014 and Commonwealth Games silver medal 2014.

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Yana: At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to become a professional triathlete?
KS: The first time I wrote it on paper. I think I was 9!
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Yana: What do you feel has (have) been the biggest challenge(s) that you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are today?
KS: Figuring out my body! I have had more injuries and unfortunate situations than anyone would believe! Many, many stress fractures due to an undiagnosed leg length discrepancy, torn ligaments, concussion, severe late onset food sensitivities. You name it, I’ve had it!
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Yana: In the midst of all the setbacks that you’ve faced, what motivated you to keep going?
KS: I’m not really sure, to be honest. It’s just that I truly love it and I just worked towards getting back from one setback at a time. I think if I had looked at all that I said above as a whole, it would have been pretty depressing, but one thing at a time seems manageable.
Yana: What aspects of your training have contributed to major improvements (personal bests)?
KS: Consistent training without much time off from injury or illness.
Yana: What piece of advice do you have for athletes who would like to take their sport to the next level?
KS: You have to love it. You can’t do something well enough to be with the best, if it isn’t done for the right reasons. I think you have to love what you do to be the best you can be at something.
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Yana: If you weren’t a triathlete, what would you be?
KS: Well, I would still “be” Kirsten. I feel like I “do” triathlon, but I’m not defined by it. So anything else I took interest in would be something I “do” not something I “am” if that makes sense. I would like to study chiropractics one day and hopefully practice that somewhere down the road!      
Yana: What is your ultimate career goal?
KS: To express my true potential, get the very best out of myself, whatever that may be. I think that would be the best feeling no matter what the result was
To learn more about Kirsten, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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