We love to celebrate professional athletes as superheroes. But even world champions are human.
Just 18 months after giving birth, in 2022 Chelsea Sodaro became the first American woman in 25 years to win the Ironman World Championship and the first Kona-crowned rookie since Chrissie Wellington’s victory in 2007. It was a new-mom-Cinderella story that travelled beyond the endurance press to the mainstream, positioning her as a powerful and inspiring voice for female athletes and young moms all across the world.
But just as she reached the highest echelon of success, Chelsea began to face a challenge far more difficult than Kona. The periodic bouts with mental health that had visited her in the past came roaring back in the form of an acute anxiety disorder that made it difficult for her to leave the house, left her bereft, unable to train, and prone to suicidal ideation.
Refusing to accept debilitation, Chelsea sought help for a problem her champion mindset alone simply couldn’t solve. Today Chelsea shares her story with laudable openness and vulnerability.
“You can’t always exercise or meditate your way out of a mental health crisis.”
– CHELSEA SODARO
In this conversation we discuss the tools Chelsea relies upon to confront and manage her mental health struggles, why she decided to reach out for help, and why sharing her experience publicly has been and continues to be integral to her recovery.
In addition, we discuss Chelsea’s journey to triathlon, the current state of gender equity in the sport, and how we can better support female athletes and make sport more accessible to all.
Chelsea also shares the mindset that has propelled her success and why she actively makes decisions based on love, joy, and possibility rather than fear.
Note: Today we discuss mental health issues some might find confronting. If you are struggling, please raise your hand and reach out for help. You can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP and if you are experiencing suicidal ideation, know you’re not alone. I encourage you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1(800) 273-TALK.
I have so much respect for Chelsea’s strength, courage, and vulnerability.
Chelsea’s story is powerful. I’m proud to help amplify it. And our shared hope is that it helps those in need and serves to further normalize the discourse around mental health.
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- Connect with Chelsea: Website | Instagram | X
- YouTube: Wahoo Frontiers: SODARO
- New York Times: Chelsea Sodaro Conquered Kona. Then the Real Struggles Returned.
- People: Chelsea Sodaro Becomes First American to Win Ironman World Champs in 20 Years: ‘My Mind is a Little Blown’
- Triathlete: With Kona in Sight, Chelsea Sodaro is Rediscovering Her Fire
- Triathlete: “No One Should Ever Be Penalized for Getting Pregnant”
- Olympics: Triumph over trials: Chelsea Sodaro on motherhood, mental health, and winning the Kona Ironman World Championships
- EssentiallySports: “I Don’t Think There’s a Cure”: USA’s Triathlon World Champion Breaks the Silence on Her Battle With Inner Demons During ‘Historic’ Win
- Runner’s World: How to Normalize Mental Injuries for Athletes
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