Two-time Olympic Nicola Spirig has entered the history books by becoming the first female Olympian ever to complete a full triathlon in under 8 hours—smashing the world record by over 40 minutes. The 40 year-old mom of three crossed the finish line in Germany in an astonishing 7 hours, 34 minutes and 19 seconds.
Spirig accomplished the feat despite earlier this year breaking three ribs, fracturing her collarbone and puncturing a lung in a cycling accident that almost ended her career. She recovered and went on to fulfill this lifelong triathlon ambition on the cusp of ending her 20+ years of international competition and retiring from the sport this year.
The Pho3nix Sub8 Project race in Germany on June 5 was organized specifically to pit two of the world’s greatest female triathletes against each other, in a challenge to break the 8-hour barrier. Both athletes broke the decade-long world record for women of 8:18:13. Not only did Nicola beat her personal record of 9 hours, 14 minutes and 7 seconds, the seven-time European Champion crossed the line in an epic 7:34:19— three minutes after Ironman champion Kat Matthews, a British army captain.
Beyond winning seven 70.3 Ironman titles—and being on the podium at each half Ironman race she has ever entered—she has also managed to study to become a lawyer. Nicola also organizes the Kids Cup races for children throughout Switzerland, raising money to deliver to other kids more access to sports.
Spirig announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season in April. “I’ve been able to take part in five Olympic Games. I’ve won two Olympic medals and seven European Championship titles, I was Switzerland’s Sportswoman of the Year, I’ve built up a foundation and the Kids Cup series, and I’m a mother of three wonderful children. I am incredibly grateful and also somewhat proud to have been able to experience all of this over the years. I am at peace with my life and my career, which is why I have decided to retire from professional triathlon at the end of the current season.”