By Merryn Sherwood on 12/02/15 at 8:11 am
When Siri Lindley stepped out of the open water at the Toronto ITU World Cup in 2001, she almost retired right then and there. At that stage she was the No.1 triathlete in the world, but it was a smaller result that meant more – she actually led the swim.
After only learning to swim at age 23, getting her first leg up to the elite level had always been her biggest challenge.
“That was this massive, almost impossible goal I set for myself,” Lindley said. “But on that day I achieved it. That for me was just the most powerful moment.”
Though Lindley excelled in sports from an early age, she was never a triathlete, or even a runner or cyclist. At Brown University, she played varsity field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey. She first heard of triathlon when a friend invited her to a race a year after graduation in 1992.
“I just fell in love with the sport on that day,” Lindley says. “I said that I want to do this sport and I want to be the best that I can be at this sport.”
Lindley had a long road ahead of her. Not only did she have to learn how to swim, she also had to find time to train despite working more than 60 hours a week at the local YMCA. After several years of morning, lunch break and evening workouts, Lindley left her job and life in Worcester, Mass., to further pursue her dream in the town she saw becoming the “Mecca” of triathlon - Boulder, Colorado.
In 2000, Lindley won her first World Cup race at the age of 31. The following year, she became the No. 1 triathlete in the world, won six consecutive World Cup races and the ITU World Championship title. She continued that success in 2002, maintaining her No. 1 ranking and once again winning the World Cup series. In July of 2001 and 2002, Lindley was named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Month, and Triathlon Magazine named her the Triathlete of the Year in 2001.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world to make it and to suddenly realise that all that time that you spent when it wasn’t easy was so worth it in the end,” Lindley says. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It made me who I am.”
At the end of the 2002 season, Lindley retired to pursue a new dream: helping other athletes reach theirs. She founded Sirius Athletes in 2003 and has consistently coached 15 athletes at a time since then. Her athletes have won Olympic medals, World Championships, World Cup races, national championships and earned No. 1 world rankings.
“Every single experience I had, every mistake I made, everything I did right — there’s so much I can offer these athletes to help them achieve their goals,” Lindley says. “I feel really blessed and really honoured that these athletes come to me and put their dreams in my hands and say that they believe I can help them achieve it…it feels like exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”
ITU Career: 1996 - 2002
ITU World Champion (2001)
2x ITU World Cup Series winner (2001, 2002)
11 ITU World Cup wins