May 31, 2010

Post Ironman Interview: Liezel v d Westhuizen

I wanted to do something totally inspirational in terms of an interview after Ironman. For me there was one story that really stood out this year at Ironman. One that I was holding thumbs for 10 times more than others. I want to go back a little though before Ironman and share some of the stories on this amazing woman.

I met Liezel at varsity. She may have had pigtails and may have worn tie-die. I can’t confirm these details entirely for the fear of my car tires. Her fans are crazy about her. Transformed into a superstar TV personality, Idols Presenter and all around most-positive-person-on-the-box girl. She is also incredibly friendly and perhaps her best trait is that she is not scared to ask questions.

When I heard Liezel was entered for Ironman SA I was stunned. I thought to myself that this was a new dimension to her. She was BALLSY. I had never known her to run a step, never mind 42 200 meters after a 180 000 meter cycle and a 3800 meter swim. I knew about the limits of economy she would face. I imagined her time schedule to be crazy already, so throwing in 15+ hours of training a week would be a near impossibility.

I watched from the outside and picked up on the rumors. People, amazingly, were a little begrudged with her. They were blind to the PR and the exposure she was giving our niche sport in the mainstream media. I know that the editor of our biggest cycling publication told her she should stick to TV. I wanted to kick him in the nads when I heard this. Thankfully, Liezel processed it all as motivation to keep going.

When she didn’t make the bike cut-off at 70.3 in January I read stupid blog posts and heard stupid comments. I knew they would all just motivate her. I had full faith she was going to make it at Ironman and that she did. In doing it she gave more PR to the race than I reckon every athlete combined. She did it selflessly without asking for anything in return. She was just another athlete, talking about how amazing the experience was. I hope she can inspire you just a touch of what she has given me as inspiration this year.

I looked for her everywhere on the bike but I missed her somewhere. Sorry about that girl!


Here is her interview:

1. Why ironman?

I wanted to set a huge goal for myself in 2010 and what is bigger than Ironman?

2. What was the biggest obstacle?

My biggest obstacle on race day was the run, I thought with long legs like mine that I would be a natural runner but that has never been the case, and I was so worried that I wouldn’t manage the run distance at Ironman.

3. How do you manage your time? You’re a busy girl.

Finding the time to train was a challenge; I made big sacrifices with my family and my work, I wanted to complete this and I knew that with great sacrifice, victory will be so much more sweeter.

4. After the 70.3 setback how did you go about getting into shape for the big day?

After missing my bike cut off at 70.3, I started training with a coach, and we worked very very hard on improving my cycling.

5. Best piece of equipment you own?

My pink Oakley Radars


6. Any thank you’s you want to put out there?

So many Thank Yous! My family; my coach (Mike Moriaty from M.A.D Multisport); The team from Idols/Mnet for giving me time off to take part in the Ironman even though we were filming the new season of Idols. My partner who put up with me and encouraged me even though I couldn’t run and cycle when I started this journey to becoming an Ironman. I dedicated this Ironman to my mom and dad who never once stopped believing in me (and my biggest dream was to have them walk me across the finish line at the Ironman)

7. What’s next?

Next goal is the Knysna Marathon in July, I wanted to set myself a goal to work towards and improve my running. And of course, I want to do 70.3 in January 2011.

8. When the going got really tough, what kept you going?

When it got tough, I just thought of my setback at 70.3 and I motivated myself to just keep going. I also had many people telling me that I shouldn’t waste my time trying to do The Ironman after not making it at 70.3; and this kept me going and made me laugh through out the race because I knew I was going to finish!!! There wasn’t one moment on the day where I wanted to give up. I was loving every moment.

9. How has the challenge changed your mindset, your health and your life in general?

I have always lived a healthy life style, so this just added a more active part to my life. I have seen that I managed to train wise and work wisely. This challenge made me realise that I have the determination and courage to tackle anything I set my mind on

10. As a woman, any women specific tips for the female readers?

When I told my dad that I am going to do The Ironman, he never laughed and said I cant do it, he went out and bought a book called “Triathlon for Women: Triathlon: A Mind-Body-Spirit Approach for Female Athletes” by Lisa Lynam. This book was full of all the advise and tips I needed; I am sure allot of readers will find this useful


Thanks for the inspiration. See you at other events. To all those who didn’t believe she could do it. I hope you like the taste of your feet. Like the mantra says. Assume nothing, pursue everything, experience now….

5 Comments on “Post Ironman Interview: Liezel v d Westhuizen

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Raoul de Jongh, Raoul de Jongh, OakleySA, Liezel vdWesthuizen, Liezel vdWesthuizen and others. Liezel vdWesthuizen said: RT<Oakley for Life!> @raouldejongh: @OakleySA your Pink & White Radars are a hit check it out. […]

June 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Liezel, you are an inspiration. Well done! Now you have an iron shining star that can never be taken from you!

June 2, 2010 at 9:07 am

Well done sis! So proud of you…Don’t STOP believing!!!

June 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

I was so proud when I received the sms on the night that told me she had finished it! Liezel is not only the sweetest and sincerest person I know, but a true inspiration to all women. Being around her motivates you to be better everyday and she proves that nothing is impossible! I hope that this was the first of many colossal achievements for her as an athlete and person.

June 14, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hi my friend. So proud of you. You are an example of note!!!


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