Just when you think you're tough enough



Leading PTO triathlete Chelsea Sodaro knows the importance of having sporting heroes. She herself drew inspiration from triathlon legend Australian Mirinda Carfrae who, like Sodaro, returned to the sport after giving birth.

The 34-year old Sodaro, who is currently PTO World No. 18, was pleased to share her journey as a professional athlete with over 280 students aged seven to 18 from the NEXUS International School (Singapore) on Thursday (Aug 17) ahead of the Aug 19-20 Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) Asian Open.

Sodaro gave birth to her first child, Skylar, in 2021 and returned to the sport with the help of the PTO’s paid leave maternity policy, but then endured a challenging period, juggling motherhood and training to be competitive again. But she powered through and earned her big break by winning the 2022 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, just 18 months after giving birth.

Drawing inspiration from Australian three-time Iroman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae, Sodaro said: “I really looked up to her because she’s a really good runner and my favourite part of the triathlon is the run. She also had a baby at the peak of her career and she showed me that you could choose motherhood and professional sport at the same time. I had a baby myself in 2021 and then came back to racing so she really paved the way for me to pursue both of those things in life.”

Also in attendance were fellow PTO athletes Gustav Iden and Ben Kanute and the trio answered questions from the students for 30 minutes before a photo and autograph session took place, which saw students presenting even their shoes and arms for signatures.

Sodaro’s story has already rubbed off on future generations, with aspiring triathlete Yuma Kaneko feeling inspired to train more. Yuma, 16, who occasionally competes in the MetaSprint race, said: “It was really inspirational, especially Chelsea who is a mum and started in her late 20s. It really showed me that you can start triathlons any time so I could start training more often now. It’s also really cool that it’s a mum because it shows that she can do anything and everyone can do it too. It made me want to continue with triathlon because I’ve had doubts but now I feel more reassured.”

Student Lachlan El-Ansary, who competes in triathlons regularly, added: “It was very helpful to know the background of everyone because what you see is usually just what they do on the course but it was nice to know how they train and what they do outside of triathlons too. Knowing that they too have ups and downs in their career helps. Sometimes in training, you think there’s something wrong, but knowing that you can relate to someone who’s at the highest level also having ups and downs kind of reassures you that you can have those periods too, but there’s always a way out of it.”

Homeroom teacher Suzie Bacon, who also attended the session, hopes the students learnt from the athletes’ growth mindset. She said: “It was a really valuable session because they got to ask questions relevant to them and hear answers from the athletes themselves. Seeing them in person and realising they’re just normal people who look and sound like us is also quite valuable. A lot of people think school is about learning in the classroom, but we believe it’s about a lot more than that like having a balanced life and a growth mindset. To be able to come out of the classroom and have these guys come to us and pass on their thoughts and insight has been a valuable experience and we’re very grateful.”

The visit to the NEXUS International School (Singapore) was the second school visit conducted by PTO athletes yesterday as part of a concerted effort to explore and engage with the local community ahead of the race weekend, with Josh Amberger and Ellie Salthouse visiting the Australian International School earlier.

The inaugural PTO Asian Open from 19 to 20 August will host the world’s top male and female professional triathletes competing for a total prize purse of US$600,000 in the heart of Singapore. Led by reigning Olympic triathlon champion Kristian Blummenfelt, the star-studded field will take on a specially designed 100km course – comprising a 2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run – that takes in iconic landmarks, including the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, the Merlion, the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage. The 100km race for professional athletes and experienced amateurs begins with a 2km freshwater swim in the Marina Bay and ends near the Marina Bay Sands.

Singapore’s own Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, who won the 100m butterfly gold at the 2016 Olympics, will also take part in the 100km experienced amateur race in a relay team alongside current and retired Team Singapore athletes. The PTO Asian Open also features two duathlon races over a standard 4.5km Run/32km Bike/4.5km Run and a longer 9km Run/64km Bike/9km Run as well as the The Music Run, the signature 5km fun run that encourages everyone to have a go while listening to their favourite hits. In total, the PTO is expecting over 6,000 participants in what promises to be a celebration of multisport activity all set against the backdrop of the iconic Marina Bay Financial District. For more information, visit or

All the action will be broadcast live around the world to 195 territories courtesy of the PTO Tour’s partnerships with Warner Bros. Discovery and a series of other regional and national broadcasters. In Singapore, the PTO Asian Open will be shown ‘live’ on meWATCH, Mediacorp’s digital streaming platform.