Normann Stadlers second Ford Ironman World Championship title in 2006 means more to him than his first, he said at yesterdays press conference.
It was bigger than 2004, he said. Winning once is a dream. Winning twice youre one of the big boys now. Im so proud of myself. Last year, when he arrived here in Kona as the defending champion, Stadlers luck seemed to desert him. Two flats forced him out of the race.
His luck didnt change much at the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship when he tried to defend that title earlier this year, too. Two crashes on the bike eventually forced him to walk the final kilometers of the run. Instead of enjoying another win, he found himself just happy to get to the finish line.
Suddenly many people were questioning whether or not he had what it takes to repeat as the champion here in Kona.
Some people asked me if I thought I could still win, he said. I asked them why they were even asking me those things. If I didnt think I could win, I wouldnt be here. And I knew I could win.
Those of us watching from the outside seemed to think that Stadlers attitude took a dramatic shift in August of 2004, when he arrived in San Diego for his pre-Kona training camp, and appeared to be much more serious and focused than ever. Stadler doesnt see it that way. For him there was no dramatic shift in performance ... the fitness we saw in 2004 was the culmination of years of training.
You learn so much over the years. I started triathlon in 88, he said. Now its paying off. Now I train a lot of high quality. It works. I have no coach. Im guy who likes to go out and have a regular life.
The key to his Kona success, Stadler feels, is that six week block of training he does every year before the Ford Ironman World Championship.
For six weeks I am nothing but an athlete, he said. No Sarah (his girlfriend). No chocolate, no junk food. I know I have to be that focused, because its our big day here in Hawaii. Its big for me. Its big for Germany.
Beyond the focus, though, Stadler feels that to win here in Kona you must experience the event, and be prepared for the level of competition, and exposure, this event draws.
You need so many years here to win here, he said. Its easy to win in Germany. Its easy to win Australia. I won Australia twice, and I got no sponsors. People only know Hawaii, and Frankfurt now. All that exposure made Stadler a huge personality in his home country when he won two years ago, and now hes anticipating more of the same.
Ill have a lot of appearances, he said. There was a lot of stuff before this race a lot of attention about the Faris and Normann battle. Now its pay day.
It sure is. All the years, all the dedication, all the sacrifice ... they have resulted in yet another World Championship title, one that puts Normann Stadler an exclusive category a multiple Ford Ironman World Champion.
2006 Ironman World Championship
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