June 2, 2022
“Nicola’s Spirit” celebrates the life and legacy of the world’s greatest female tri-athlete
Nicola Spirig’s inspiring fortitude is captured in a forthcoming film, as the dual Olympic medalist attempts to be the first woman in history to go sub 8 hours
The 40 year-old Swiss-born mother of three and two-time Olympic medalist, Nicola Spirig, has already cemented her legacy as one of the greatest triathletes of all time—dominating Triathlon competitions across the globe for more than 20 years. The remarkable journey of this sporting legend will now be told in a new short film, scheduled for release later this month, following Nicola’s attempt to go sub 8 hours in a head-to-head competition that is anticipated to be her last ever race before choosing to retire from competition.
On June 5th at the Dekra Lausitzring racetrack in Germany, Nicola will attempt to be the first woman in history to complete a full distance triathlon in under 8 hours. The attempt will be part of a bespoke event, entitled the Pho3nix Sub8 Project, created by the Pho3nix Foundation, where Nicola will compete alongside England’s Katrina Matthews, a two-time Ironman champion. The world record for women is 8:18:13, set by Chrissie Wellington of Great Britain in 2011, a record that now stands for over a decade. The event will host two of the world’s greatest female athletes going head-to-head to break the barrier – the best-of-the-best aiming to make history. To go faster than eight hours over the full distance of triathlon and overcome physical and mental barriers never before breached, teams of pacemakers, chosen by these champion athletes, will keep them on pace to Defy The Impossible.
Scheduled for a highly anticipated release on June 13th, Swiss sportswear company, On, presents “Nicola’s Spirit” – an original short film written and directed by Simon Brotherson and produced by film maker, Andrew Telling. The documentary-style film gives viewers a personal perspective on Nicola Spirig’s rise to become one of the most accomplished, admired and celebrated athletes of our age. Filmed on-location in Gran Canaria, Nicola’s Spirit offers an intimate reflection and unprecedented insight in to the psyche and competitive spirit of a true champion during her final year of competition.
The five minute film captures Nicola training against the stunning backdrop of the mountains of Gran Canaria, as she gives a heartfelt portrayal of what Spirit means to her personally. In her most profound interview yet, she provides an introspective understanding of her own mindset during race day, and her career-long ambition to be better than the rest. The film shows her post injury treatment, after breaking three ribs, fracturing her collarbone and puncturing a lung, resulting from a bike accident three months prior to her attempt to be the first woman to complete a full distance triathlon in under 8 hours in June this year. Nicola describes her satisfaction in setting high, sometimes unreachable goals, whereby she will aim to thrash her current Personal Best time of 9 hours, 14 minutes and 7 seconds, as the final piece of an unmatched legacy that would seal her place in history.
“Nicola’s Spirit is about the legacy Nicola has left in the sport for future generations to learn from and hopefully follow,” says Feliciano Robayna, Executive Producer and Head of Sports Marketing at On. “Becoming a mother of three while continuing to fulfil her ambition as a champion shows a relentless strength and determination. As the final curtain closes on her 20-year career, Nicola is aiming to make the impossible possible at the Pho3nix Sub8 Project. The new short film serves as a mantle and testament to one of the most revered competitors and heroines of our time, while inspiring the next generation of athletes to find their true Spirit in the journey. Nicola is a shining example of what it means to push your limits while always remembering to enjoy the process.”
On has partnered with The Pho3nix Foundation, a non-profit organization created with the sole purpose of promoting physical activity as a way to improve health and wellbeing among children, with a particular focus on those in disadvantaged situations. The Foundation’s core mission is expressed in two parts: to create global initiatives which inspire, including the Sub7 and Sub8 attempts with the Pho3nix team of elite athletes, as well as to deliver local and regional programs that directly assist youth endeavor.
A legendary track record
A triathlete since the age of 10, Nicola has conquered the world of triathlon. As a two-time Olympic medalist, seven-time European Champion and Swiss Sportswoman of the Year in 2012, her career speaks for itself, and her legend continues to be added to with each new year in the sport. As a new breed of talent has emerged, the 40 year-old hasn’t let her growing family interfere with her career ambitions and limitless achievements in her field.
During Nicola’s iconic career, she has also managed to study to become a lawyer and has a family with husband and Vice World Champion Reto Hug, naming her first two children Yannis (born in 2013) and Malea (born in 2017) as new additions to her household, in-between competing at elite European and global competitions. Unsure whether she would ever return to triathlon, just 12 weeks after her third child, Alexis, was born in April 2019, the 37-year-old was back competing at the ITU Hamburg World Cup, followed by the World Triathlon Series Grand Final held in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Nicola was born in Bülach in Switzerland on 7 February 1982, and started out with great success in becoming the Junior European and World Champion, as well as winner of multiple ITU World Series and Half-Ironman races. In the 13 years from 1998 to 2010, Spirig took part in 72 ITU competitions and achieved 39 top ten positions. Nicola’s career went from strength to strength, as Vice-World Champion and Team World Champion in 2010, then becoming a six-times European Champion (2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018) as well as winning gold at the Ironman Cozumel in 2014 and at the European Games in 2015. Nicola has also won seven 70.3 Ironman titles, being on the podium at each half Ironman race she has ever entered. The Swiss star’s career also includes some exceptional running achievements, as a world-class marathon runner who has twice claimed second at the Zurich Marathon, and once ran a blistering 2.37 at the Marathon European Championships.
Nicola is a member of the Swiss National Team and has represented her country a total of five times, making her the only triathlete ever to race in five Olympic Games. After winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games and a subsequent silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Nicola finished sixth in Tokyo, her fifth Olympic Games, making her the most successful female triathlete at the Olympics. In 2022, Nicola will bring a close to her incredible career by leaving a legacy that will be admired by all those who follow in her footsteps.
As well as backing the Sub8 Project, the Pho3nix Foundation is also supporting the Kids Cup by Nicola Spirig, which organizes races appropriate for children throughout Switzerland and raises funding to bring more children access to sport. Nicola’s motivation for the Sub8 challenge is greater than attempting to break the 8 hour barrier. She aims to inspire a new generation of athletes with her mantra of setting high personal goals while always remaining fiercely competitive.
Nicola’s sub 8 hour attempt at the Pho3nix Sub8 Project will take place this Sunday, June 5th. Nicola’s Spirit presented by On can be seen from June 13th at on-running.com/nicolaspirit.