ERIN BAKER – TRIATHLETE LEGEND
During the 80’s and 90’s Erin dominated triathlon over the full range of distances and built an extremely impressive resume at the same time. Of the 121 professional races she won 104 of those races, winning Ironman Kona Twice. She held the world title over all distances from sprint to Ironman and duathlon. Erin won her first Ironman in Australia in a world record time even though the Ironman distance wasn’t her preference.
As a New Zealander Erin was motivated to get involved into triathlon after seeing the Les Mills (well known gym owner) triathlon series in 1984 but started triathlon in Australia as she felt she was a bit chubby but won her first race. It was only after a couple of races Erin decided to do Forster Ironman and won the race with a world record.
Erin played a key political role in ensuring women received equivalent prize money to that of male competitors. Erin was also a controversial character and was happy to share her– thoughts even if it was on other sports personalities like Paula Newby Fraser (take the time to listen to her thoughts and feelings on http://www.legendsoftriathlon.com/ - really great podcaste)
Her political protests also caused many problems particularly when she wanted to race in the US. In 1981 she was convicted of throwing explosive devices while protesting during the South African Rugby team tour of New Zealand. This act prevented her from entering the United States for several years and prevented her from competing in any American races. Even while racing Erinr was also known for her protests – at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii she rebelled against the notion of the winner of the men’s division receiving a car and the women’s division winner receiving nothing for her efforts. She voiced her opinions on numerous occasions and as a result was well known as a controversial athlete
Erin was originally coached by John Hellemans but controlled and developed her successful career by self-training, “I was self-trained. I just trained as much as my body would handle, and that was a shit load. I trained and trained, and I trained more if I had time. I never got injured so I would often do more in case somebody else was training while I was resting”. This quote only highlights the sheer determination of the woman and the competitive desire to win at all costs, even if the costs were physical.
Erin Baker was named “Triathlete of the decade” by American magazine Triathlete. The magazine commented on Erin’s success by saying “We’ve stopped trying to figure Erin out, we just accept her as the best female triathlete that ever lived” (Palenski & Romanos, 2000).
For another great interview can be found at Slow Twitch by following the link:
Further reading about Erin is found at Inside Triathlon’s top 10 women athletes