Road to London, My Story – Dawn Werneck

I left England for Brazil in 1971 as a 25-year-old who had never dreamed of competing in her life.  Ten years later I returned to take part in the Avon Womens Marathon, a novice marathoner amidst a small group of illustrious marathoners with names such as Joyce Smith and Joan Benoit.  But I had decided that my first marathon would have to be in London.  My marathon times later improved somewhat with the technical help of people like Chris Brasher who was later to become the Director of the London Marathon.  Unfortunately, on the way to achieving my potential, I got a bad case of plantar fascitis and resorted to swimming and biking to maintain fitness.  A few months later my life changed forever. To my amazement, I won the first triathlon held in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and became a triathlete (And an Ironman, as the prize was a trip to the 1983 Kona Ironman – only five months later!)  The next year I won another trip to Kona and brought back an age-group award.

Over the next few years I became a very competitive triathlete, but decided to retire at 40 to coach my fourteen year old daughter, who became the youngest competitor at the first Triathlon World Championship in Avignon.  Ironically, she did her first Ironman in Kona last year at the age of forty.  In London we will be sharing a bike as my Sprint distance is on Friday and her Olympic race is on Sunday.Image

Fast forward twenty years, and now living in the US.  My daughter persuades me to get out my dusty bike and train for a local duathlon, which happens to be the qualifier for the 2006 World Duathlon Championships.  I am nervous and lack confidence, but managed to win my age-group.  I did, however, realize that I was not yet prepared to complete the distance required in the Worlds.  Three years later I won a bronze medal at the Duathlon World Championships in North Carolina.  

In 20l0 I am over-ambitious and am entered in both the Duathlon in Edinburgh and the Triathlon in Budapest, but have a hamstring injury, and both events prove to be horribly painful experiences.  Unfortunately, the American Nationals were two weeks later and taking part would have been unthinkable.  I see my chances of doing a better race the next year in China gone forever.  Fortunately, Brazil is happy to let me compete for them just on my triathlon history.  I thank them by winning a gold medal for Brazil in China in 20ll and a second gold in Auckland in 2012.  I would have been quite happy with that but couldn’t resist taking part in a triathlon through the streets of London.  So if you see a 67-yr-old lady with a Brazilian tri-suit who has just flown in from the States with a British accent – you already have the answers to some of your questions!

3 thoughts on “Road to London, My Story – Dawn Werneck

  1. Dawn didn’t say it, but she also won silver for Brazil in the recent World Duathlon Championships in Ottawa, Canada, in the Oympic distance.

  2. Dawn has always been extremely modest about her exceptional achievements in the world of sport. I wish her, her husband and daughter, Becky, the very best in the London World Championships and look forward to hearing of further family sporting
    successes in the future.

    Valerie Sinclair (friend)

  3. Dawn has been both a mentor and an inspiration to me (athletically and spiritually) in the past seventeen years since we met. Coming from a lifetime of fighting (and sometimes losing to) obesity and sloth, I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Dawn’s encouragement I would not be where I am or who I am today. She accompanied me recently to my first sprint triathlon, which is something I would never in my wildest dreams thought I could have done.

    Dawn is a remarkable woman. I am truly blessed to know her and her family. I wish her all the best in the London World Championships. Press on!

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