In a frank and honest interview with Switzerland’s Schweizer Illustrierte, four-time Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf discussed her struggles with pressure since her dramatic Kona win in 2018 and how the pandemic has forced her to reevaluate her life. During the interview she also revealed that she has “also been in love with a woman” and that she’s no longer working with long-time coach Brett Sutton.
Positive and supportive reactions
Ryf’s instagram post with a link to the interview – she also provides an English translation on her website – has received over 15,000 likes. When asked why she wanted to talk about her sexuality, she said “I was torn. Actually, who you love shouldn’t matter. But I am direct and honest. I don’t want to hide. I also want to set an example and say: live and let live. Love and let love.”
“For me this is not an outing,” she continued, when asked how people have reacted to this news. “Because that would imply that I am somehow different. But to answer your question: Everyone reacted very positively and was supportive.”
Ryf was also asked specifically about any reaction from her sponsor, the Bahrain Endurance 13 team.
“In Bahrain, people who feel and love like you have few rights,” she was asked. “Are you afraid of consequences?”
“I would be very disappointed if my openness resulted in pushback from my partners,” Ryf said. “For me, the most important thing is that I can be who I am. Open, honest, free.”
Pressure and the pandemic
“The pandemic made it painfully obvious that I didn’t have much in my life, when sports breaks away,” Ryf said. She looks back to her last Kona victory in 2018 when she had to overcome a jellyfish sting during the swim to take her fourth-straight world championship title as the beginning of her “questioning” what she wanted to do. All the accolades after the race started to make her question whether it was “the best performance I’ll ever be capable of, the best story I’ll ever write.”
Asking herself “where do I want to be in five years from now?” Ryf decided to return to school to finish up her degree in food technology. Now she’s working on a graduate degree in business psychology.
Ryf also said that she is now coaching herself after a long relationship with Brett Sutton that has seen her rise to the top of the sport with nine Ironman and 70.3 world titles.
“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.”
Ryf will next compete at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah, then the Ironman North American Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.