She could have stayed on the podium. Instead, she decided to pull others up there.
In 2002, Siri Lindley was the number-one triathlete in the world. That was the year she notched a World Cup series title, two U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Month honors, and the designation of Triathlete of the Year by this very magazine. It was an exciting time for the Worcester, Massachusetts, native, and many wondered how she’d top herself.
Lindley could have pursued another ITU title or an Olympic medal. She could have stepped up to racing the half or full Iron distance. She likely would have succeeded at all those things. Instead, she retired at 33.
“I had found what I was looking for,” says Lindley of the decision. “I earned my own trust and proved to myself that I could take something that seemed impossible and make it possible.”
It was the “ultimate gift” for Lindley, who had struggled with anxiety and self-doubt for years. “I was ready to move on to what I knew was my ultimate purpose—to help others tap into their potential and achieve their dreams.” Lindley started Sirius Coaching in 2003, and in the subsequent years found herself one of the best once again—this time, as a coach and mentor to Olympic medalists, Ironman world champions, and ITU stars. But Lindley is not your typical whistle-blowing, tough-love coach. Her approach is modeled after Yoli Casas, Lindley’s first coach: “She said to me early on, ‘Siri, who you are as a human being will always be so much more important than what you achieve as an athlete.’”
Lindley emphasizes hard work and persistence to her athletes, but also perspective. “Gratitude is the primary feeling I want my athletes to live by. Gratitude for the opportunity, the passion, and the ability to do what they do at the highest levels. Gratitude for the victories and for the losses. We are either winning, or we are learning. There is no such thing as failure.”
In turn, she’s helped her athletes find the same gift triathlon once gave her. “I started working with Siri in January 2012, during a period of burnout,” says Dutch former IMWC silver medalist Yvonne Van Vlerken. “I didn’t know if I wanted to go on anymore. She saved me and brought back my joy for the sport.”
Lindley’s holistic approach means coaching doesn’t end once a workout wraps up. She often hosts athletes at her Boulder, Colorado, home, which she shares with her wife (former professional triathlete Rebekah Keat) and a stable of rescued horses. Their rescue organization, Believe Ranch and Rescue, has saved 51 horses from inhumane conditions since 2017.
“I feel my purpose in life has been to touch as many lives as I possibly can, both human and animal,” Lindley says. “Celebrating life and bringing out the best in all those around me.”