Chris McCormack - Four time World Champion Triathlete
Chris McCormack - Four time World Champion Triathlete
Episode Name: Chris McCormack
In this episode of BE with Champions, host Greg Bennett interviews triathlete and long-time friend Chris McCormack. Chris won world championships in both ITU and Ironman racing, and has fostered a successful post-athletic career as well. Chris grew up running with his dad for fun, and can clearly remember being glued to the TV during the 1984 Olympics marathon at age 10. From that day onward, Chris decided he wanted to be a marathon runner; he joined running communities, track clubs, and dreamed of running for the Australian Olympic team. Until he was in high school, Chris had never even heard of triathlon, and remembers watching one for the first time when he was 16. While in college, Chris periodically won a few triathlons, and the prize money made him feel like he was on top of the world. The thought of working in the financial industry was distressing to him, so Chris took every opportunity he could to race. After racing last-minute in an ITU triathlon in Paris and placing 6th, 23-year-old Chris suddenly found himself on the fast-track to success.
In 1996 and 1997, Chris was practically unstoppable. ITU ranked him ninth in the world in 1996, and in 1997, after winning the ITU World Championships, he ranked number one. Despite his success, Chris struggled with severe imposter syndrome. He wanted to belong with the best of the world, but even after winning a world championship, didn’t feel like he deserved it. Chris recalls apologizing to his idol, Brad Beven, who was also one of his competitors, after winning. Brad told him to “never apologize for winning a world championship.”
Going into the trials for the 2000 Olympics, Chris ranked number one in the world, and Greg ranked number two. However, neither of them ended up making the team, and this disappointment stuck with Chris for a long time. He felt that he was cheated of a spot on the team, and used his anger at both himself and the system to fuel his future races. That year, he moved to America, frustrated with the Australian administration. Though it was a lonely few years of hating everything and everyone, Chris believes that those years enabled him to become an Ironman athlete. Chris won his first-ever Ironman in Australia, but couldn’t even finish the race at the Kona world championships in 2002. After placing progressively higher and higher every year, Chris finally won the world Ironman title in 2007, and then again in 2010. It was in Ironman racing that he believes he became a man.
The transition from being a professional athlete back to a “civilian” lifestyle was one Chris had been preparing for his entire life. He always knew that he couldn’t be a professional athlete forever, but has been able to use many of the same skills in his current business ventures. The elements of discipline, teamwork, and risk vs. reward that make a champion great are also elements that make a successful businessman. Chris now is the CEO of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team, and co-founded the Super League Triathlon Global Series, which is rising in popularity and now co-exists with the ITU. He also still runs marathons for fun and enjoys participating in the sport. He closes the interview by sharing a piece of wisdom: champions are not built out of single successes. The truly successful people simply do consistent hard work.
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