Triathlon Olympic champion Nicola Spirig continues until Tokyo 2021


Nicola Spirig

Nicola Spirig has made her decision: The 38-year-old two-time Olympic medalist is extending her career and wants to start at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It is a carefully-considered decision.

The past few weeks have been eventful and challenging for Nicola Spirig. The six-time European champion continued to follow her training plan as normal, despite the uncertainty brought about by the Corona pandemic. Then the decision was announced: The Olympic Games will be postponed by one year. Spirig said: “I was relieved at the time when I became certain of the postponement. Although, of course, it wasn't easy to break off what might have been a four-year preparation period." But Spirig took the opportunity to recover from a hip flexor injury and to spend more time with her family. "For us as a family, these isolated weeks of during the pandemic ultimately had a lot of positive things to offer. We became even more aware of how privileged and happy we are with our lives and we really appreciated the time together at home."

After the postponement of the Olympic Games, the 2012 Olympic champion deliberately took the time to decide whether Tokyo would also be a destination in 2021. "It was important for me to find out whether I would continue to bring as much energy and motivation as I had in the past to do the many hard and intensive training sessions needed to perform at the world's best level. I did not want to make this decision lightly. I wanted to be sure that I could stand behind my decision even in winter, when the psychologically more difficult weeks normally come up.”

Spirig was able to answer these questions positively after taking time to reflect over the past few weeks. "Sport is my passion, it still makes me very happy and I consider it a privilege to practice it as a profession." This is not a matter of course, especially since the mother of three has been a member of the national team since 1998 and has been part of the world elite since then - first as a junior, then in the elite.

The complex family organisation:
In addition to her own motivation, other factors played an important role in Nicola Spirig's decision to extend her career. "This was not a decision I could make alone. We are a family and such a decision affects all family members. It had to make sense for our entire family. Without the feeling that it is also right for our children and knowing I have the 100% support of my husband Reto, any preparation would be futile." 

The corresponding discussions with her husband were thoroughly positive: "We are a well-rehearsed team and have found a way in the past years that suits our family", says husband Reto Hug. "Now we are happy that Nicola is continuing her career. Her participation in her fifth Olympic Games will also be a special experience for all of us".

Nevertheless, there were some important organizational issues for the family to resolve. For example, whether the part-time nanny would stay on a year longer. Or whether the contract of the apartment rented for training purposes in Engadin, Switzerland could still be extended despite cancellation. Also the already booked preparation camp in South Korea had to be cancelled and planned anew.

Trainers, environment and sponsors are involved:
As a third factor for a successful fifth Olympic participation, it was also important to Spirig that she could continue with her previous environment and team. "For me it is clear that I would only continue my career with the support of my coach Brett Sutton, with whom I have been working for 15 years now. It was also important to me that my closest companions from my surroundings as well as my sponsors were on board and also accompany me on my way until 2021. Without my proven team, I would not have continued."

The discussions that the 2012 Olympic champion had with Sutton, her surroundings and her partners were extremely positive and left Nicola extremely grateful: "It is emotionally very touching for me to be supported from so many sides, which is absolutely great. Especially in these times, when the virus is presenting us all with great challenges".

The Olympic postponement is also convenient:
The postponement also has positive aspects for Nicola. Alexis, the third child of Nicola Spirig and husband Reto Hug was born in April 2019. Until 2021, the 2016 Olympic runner-up now has even more time for specific Olympic preparations. "Before the Olympic cancellation, the program was very tight. I absolutely needed qualification points in 2019 and early 2020 and it was not easy to reconcile family and sport. Now I have practically fulfilled all the qualification criteria and I can tailor the preparation and races to my specific needs". Accordingly, Spirig and her team are now looking forward to the road ahead.

How things will continue after Tokyo 2021 is open. "The focus will be on the Olympic races in the individual and team events at best. After that, Reto and I will sit down together and keep watching." For now, however, the studied lawyer is focusing on the next races in 2020 and then on her fifth Olympic Games: "I want to start in absolute top form and finish these fifth games with a top performance!"


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