18 Again: What Top Athletes Wished They Knew at 18

Take a moment & think back to when you were 18.

What were you doing?

What did you think you would be doing with your life? How different are you from the person you were at 18?

For many of us, life unfolds very differently from how we imagined it would.

It certainly has for me. 18 held dreams of a high flying legal career, partnership in a ‘big’ law firm, a corner office, lots of travel & no children. Several (!) years later, while I’ve travelled & climbed further up the corporate ladder in various law firms, I find myself a personal trainer with my own business(es) and a step-mother! And you know what – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I think this why one of my favourite questions in the 6-5-1@SPARTA interview series is ~

 If you could go back in time & give one piece of advice to yourself
when you were 18, what advice would that be?

The 6-5-1@SPARTA interview feature celebrates its 1st birthday this month. So to celebrate I thought I would go back & highlight the advice our athletes would have given to their 18 year old self. Here is what they said ~

Trent Chapman
2010 Australian Ironman champion

I always doubted myself/ my ability. It took me till I was retired and back racing as an age group at 34yrs of age that something clicked and I thought hey I do ok at this tri caper. My advice – believe in yourself.




Lisa Marangon
Winner of multiple Half Ironman/70.3 races 

I believe life is a journey and we can’t change our past just accept ourselves since we were young. Things turn out the way they do for a reason and I am grateful for everything I have. Learning so much since I was 18 has been one amazing roller coaster and I wouldn’t give any advice (maybe to be a whole lot more confident about myself)




Keith Bateman
World record holder (age group) over 5 distances from 1500m to 10,000m 

Follow your heart! It has taken me a while to learn that one but now I’ve got it!


Annabel Luxford
U23 triathlon World Champ & 4 ITU World Cup races

Do lots and lots of calf raises, and that you can’t please everyone.





Jordan Rapp
2011 ITU Long Course World Champ & multiple Ironman races

Ask for advice and help. That’s what I learned in college – by not doing so.



Conrad Stoltz
Olympian & 4 x XTERRA World Champion

Get a good coach. I was self “coached” for the 1st 10 years and threw away those early years by trying to race 30+ races, 2 seasons a year and training like a bull in a china shop.



Michelle Wu
Winner of multiple Half Ironman/70.3 races

A lot of decisions are made though when you finish school and start uni. My advice would be to make these decisions knowing that things can, and will most probably, change. If you had told me I would be racing triathlon at the professional level back then, I would have looked at you like you were mental!





Dr Martin Fryer,
Winner of 2011 Sri Chimroy 6 day race in New York  ~

Take the time to smell the roses – make sure that you immerse yourself in at least some training runs and some races where time doesn’t matter – where you run for the pure joy of the running or the camaraderie of fellow runners.



Mirinda Carfrae
2010 Ironman World Champion & 2007 70.3 World Champion-

This is going to sound kinda cocky but I think I was on the right track at age 18. I had massive ambition but realized that it would take years of consistency and hard work before I would see any results. The main stress back then was always money and that question ‘am I on the right track?’, “am I wasting my life on this sport?’. Luckily I followed my gut and stuck with the sport long enough to see some of the rewards.



Coach Troy
Well-known cycling + triathlon coach & stellar age group athlete

Focus on technique development at an early stage of training more, especially with the swim! I started swimming at the age of 18 , had no guidance/coaching and developed horrible technique that persisted throughout my entire triathlon career.





Melissa Rollison
2011 Ironman 70.3 World Champion

Don’t be afraid to take a break, miss a day. If you’ve got a small niggle – rest it! Don’t expect it to go away by continually pushing through the pain.






Benita Willis
World Cross Country Champion & (soon-to-be) 4 x Olympian

Always follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to take risks and chances.



Leanda Cave
ITU Long Course World Champion

Rest. I never believe or trusted my coaches when they told me I needed to rest to become better.

So instead of tapering into some big races, I’d just train hard all the way up to the big day. This left me and everyone who know how hard I trained confused as to why I didn’t achieve better results in my early days. I have changed that approach these days and I take a day off a week and rest ALOT going into big races.


If you missed any of our interviews with these athletes, you can find our interview series, 6-5-1@SPARTA, here.

What many struck me over the last 12 months in this series was how many of the professionals we interviewed talked about recognising the need to be true to themselves, to follow their heart & to believe in themselves.

From the outside, it is easy to think that  professionals in our sports ‘have it easy’; that they don’t have the same battles with inner demons, work, time commitments, family etc because they make racing look easy. But those sorts of issues are something that most (if not all of us) have battled from time to time.

So it’s your turn to be interviewed ~

What piece of advice resonates with you?

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 18 year old self?