“While many people would say that cystic fibrosis held me back from winning races and winning a World Championship, I say no - it didn’t hold me back. It actually probably elevated my game. And I probably won a lot more races than I would have because I had a tremendous reason to be on the start line and get to the finish line, because it was going to offer hope to so many people.”
“Attitude is more important than fact” might seem like one of those weary and overused motivational slogans.
But Lisa Bentley lives it every day.
A member of the Triathlon Canada Hall of Fame, Lisa is an 11 time Ironman triathlon champion, including 5 straight victories at Ironman Australia (2002 - 2006).
She also has cystic fibrosis - a genetic lung disease that results in chronic infections with limited lung capacity. Lisa was diagnosed in 1989 when she was 20.
At the time, the average life expectancy for those with cystic fibrosis in Canada was also 20.
The facts would suggest Lisa was never meant to excel at endurance sports.
And she’s the first to admit she wasn’t the most talented athlete, especially given her limited lung capacity.
But it was Lisa’s approach to the mental and emotional side of sport — her attitude — that set her apart.
And that’s what we dive into this week on Sparta Chicks Radio. We discuss:
- how she discovered running in High School and kept running despite her High School track coach telling her that she had no talent for it
- her memory of breaststroking in her first triathlon (didn’t we all?)
- how she, and 2 of her siblings, came to be diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1989,
- why she describes visualisation as the “the strongest element in my triathlon game”
- why attitude is more important than fact,
- her race (and victory) at Ironman Australia 2005 when everything that could go wrong, did
- the importance of setting internal goals (around things inside your control) as much as external goals (the end result)
- how to create your own ‘memory box’ and
- how she managed to race the Hawaii Ironman in Kona with a chest infection — and finish 4th in the process.
Notes and resources:
You can find Lisa's book "An Unlikely Champion" on her website here.