Jodie Cunnama

Jodie Cunnama

From ITU to Ironman

The early days of Jodie’s triathlon career were spent climbing podiums in Olympic-distance races and competing for England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain in the 2004 Olympics. The Olympics were a turning point for Jodie. A disappointing 34th-place finish, the result of an undiagnosed Achilles injury, plunged her into a state of depression that worsened her struggles with an eating disorder and led to a violent relationship.

But with the help of others, Jodie was able to work her way back to the top of the triathlon world. Jodie completed her comeback in 2009, when she was crowned ITU Long Distance World Champion. The next year she jumped to the pro Ironman circuit and wasted no time in making her mark by winning the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Jodie went on to win a string of 70.3 races and the ITU Long Distance World Championships again in 2016.

What is your proudest sporting achievement?

Having been in the sport for eighteen years now (time flies when you are having fun), it is quite hard to pin down one single accomplishment. My best race performance ever may have been the World Championship 70.3 in 2014. I finished second, a few minutes adrift of Daniela Ryf, but I got the best out of my body I possibly could on that day which is something to be proud of. Likewise, that year I finished 4th in Kona - a race which is fairly un-ideal for me - and that too gave me a lot of pride, to overcome my weaknesses and challenge myself.

Perhaps, the win in 2016 at the World ITU Long Course Championships had it all- seven years after my first one. It made me happy, but I am always happy when my plan comes together and I execute well. Pride is something else - it is knowledge of your journey and of your struggles. The races I have suffered and been struggling in life outside triathlon, yet still succeeded, make me very proud.

What is your proudest non-sporting achievement?

I think the sacrifices I have been willing to make to be the best mother that I can be. Watching Jack grow into the healthy, active and happy boy he is becoming. It isn't all down to me of course - he is his own (little) man - but I think I do the best for him and then the best for James [Jodie's husband and another Cervélo athlete] as I possibly can. That's hard for me as an athlete because the profession kind of requires a level of selfishness. I'm proud to be different now.

What do you enjoy most about riding bikes?

I love long, beautiful, quiet mountain passes. Going uphill makes me happy and I am good at it. Especially long, grinding mountains that go on for hours. 

What do you find most challenging about riding bikes?

I unfortunately have seen a fair amount of serious injury due to negligent driving and vehicle malfunction amongst friends.

What is your favourite Cervélo bike? Why?

My favourite bike to ride is the S5. I love light bikes and I love the nimbleness of a road bike. The addition now of disk brakes to the Cervelo roadies make them feel inequitably sublime.

What are your goals this year?

Simply to get back in a position where I can get on the start line and feel ready to race. It has been hard being the main carer for Jack as my husband concentrates fully on his professional racing. My decision is to be very open and honest about that with sponsors and fans, and not to pretend that having a child as a professional athlete is easy and straightforward. I see so much on the internet that is filtered, biased and unrealistic and I will not adhere to that - it is fraudulent and it makes people feel bad about themselves when they are doing absolutely well in just surviving the first year of having a newborn!

I don't know if ‘I can have it all’, but my goals are to ‘have it all (just perhaps not at the same time)’. I'm lucky to have people around me that understand my motivations and support that type of comeback. Cervélo is of course one of them. I’ll race fast again - it may be a short term goal or could be a longer term one, it depends on Jack’s happiness.