Daniela Ryf struggles with pressure, split with coach Brett Sutton

Daniela Ryf a the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

“I guess I’m happy when I’m not trying to be happy. My success has brought me fulfillment, it has made my dreams and goals come true. It has shown me what I can do. It’s a wonderful feeling, but success alone no longer makes me happy.,” Daniela Ryf said In a very honest and open interview with Swiss paper Schweizer Illustrierte speaking about triathlon and life. She also revealed that she had split with her coach Brett Sutton and that she had feelings for a woman.

Ryf translated the interview to English and published it on her website. “The pandemic made it painfully obvious that I don’t have much in my life, when sports breaks away. At times, I live a rather monotonous life. Training three times a day, sleeping, eating. Fortunately, I have close friends and a fantastic family. But nothing that is just mine. My thing. In return, the fear of daring to make changes was also gone. Because the process started earlier.”

But what was the moment where things changed for Ryf? Was it after her Kona 2019-defeat? “No, that defeat didn’t trigger much, because I was almost out of action due to stomach problems. The pressure also remained. I still felt like the hunted. Looking back, the win in 2018 was the beginning of my questioning.”

Despite the questioning, Ryf is still called ‘Ironlady,’ ‘Machine’ or ‘The untouchable’ by many people. “I am well aware that I’m partially to blame when it comes to these nicknames,” she said, laughing. “I certainly have this ambitious, very disciplined side and I’m hard on myself in training. But that’s only one aspect of my personality. I understand that categorizing things and people help us find orientation. That this ‘pigeonholing’ provides us with a handle on life. But I want to live free of conventions. That’s why I also leave the family question open. And I’m currently building a house in my home region fo Guensbers – as a single person, against all social norms.”

Ryf normally doesn’t talk that much about personal relationships. “In order to protect my dearest people.” Still it doesn’t bother her to share a very personal experience. “I have also been in love with a woman. First of all, I was surprised. Because I had only loved men before. I rediscovered love and thus also a bit of myself.”

For now, Ryf will be her own coach. “Brett and I have not fallen out. And I am eternally grateful to him. But I wanted to develop further. After eight years with Brett, I want to implement what I’ve learned myself.”

You can read the full interview here.