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Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle not only shoots from the hip on race day, he does the same thing when it comes to interviews. We caught up with the always-honest German to talk Challenge Bahrain, money and life as a Kona winner.
Triathlete.com: What is life as Ironman world champion like?
Kienle: That’s probably the most-asked question other than “how do you pee during the race?” Of course it was nice—we took our time after the race (we didn’t fly home directly). I was able to enjoy the race a little bit by myself. It didn’t change things too much—which is great because my life is not too bad. But I really enjoyed my time and I figured out that it wasn’t the end of the road or anything and that I can do the sport the way I want to do it.
Triathlete.com: Has it been difficult dealing with the extra attention?
Kienle: Of course it is. But this is triathlon—I didn’t win the Superbowl. It was great and of course, every human being is feeling good when there is attention. But I think we kept it at the right range —I said no to a couple of things. It wasn’t too much. Then I went on a training camp for here and so I switched off the phone and the internet—that probably annoyed a few people. But that’s what you have to do.
Triathlete.com: After “burying” yourself to win Kona, do you feel like you need to evolve your race strategy?
Kienle: I think I need to work on my abilities to change the tactics—that is the most important thing. Right now the only way I can win the race is to go hard on the bike and destroy everybody’s legs. But I wanted to be able to run under 2:50 in Kona to have different tactics.
Triathlete.com: You’re out in Bahrain now—how does that fit with the rest of your season?
Kienle: It fits in really well because it was planned from the beginning. When they announced it I asked if it was possible to race here. I didn’t want Kona to be my last race of the year and for next year I want to start a little later in the season so I don’t go to Kona over-raced. I will probably have two or three races after Kona so I am in the best shape.
I didn’t feel worn out after Kona. I did last year—probably because I was injured. But the year before and this year it wasn���t like I was falling into a deep hole after the race.
Triathlete.com: There’s a lot of money at stake—how much does that play a part in your motivation?
Kienle: Of course it’s motivation—everybody who says anything else is just a liar. But it’s a motivator to show up because it attracts the best field and that is what is attracting me. But during the race you can’t run any faster because there is money on the line. People who do that will not win. I want to beat people and not win money—that is the most important thing. Later you can think about what to do with the money. If you think about that before the race you’re not going to be a factor.