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Sophie’s Choice A Big Winner For “The Bolter From Boulder”

Sophie’s Choice A Big Winner For “The Bolter From Boulder”

Sophie Linn, the South Australian “bolter from Boulder” in Colorado, contemplated walking away from triathlon last year when she ruptured her Achilles tendon.
Yesterday, the 27-year-old, who is based in the USA where she competed as a long-distance runner at the University of Michigan, bested Australia’s top-rated triathletes to gain the first nomination for July’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Linn only took up the sport after she finished her education and had the most remarkable lead-up to Sunday’s Gold Coast Triathlon than all other competitors in the men’s and women’s events.
With the guaranteed nomination for Commonwealth Games on the line, the 133rd ranked Linn, who showed the upset victory could be within her with a fourth-place finish in Mooloolaba and a third in Devonport in the preceding month, could become a rather diminutive surprise packet for Australia.
Her first race on the circuit was only in March 2018 and, after not competing in any events in 2020 because of the pandemic.
She had entered only two events since November 2019 before returning to Australia to train under her Melbourne-based coach Danielle Stefano, after a long-distance association through necessity.
The second of those two events in June-July 2021, after a sixth finish in the Oceania Cup race in Port Douglas, was in Long Beach California where she tore the Achilles tendon. 
“I didn’t even know if I wanted to come back to triathlon; it has been a really tough two years,” Sophie admitted. 
“It felt like there were all these signs saying that maybe I should just work, I have a good full-time job at Wahoo (Fitness); it would be easy to walk away. 
“I was very hesitant. Obviously rupturing an Achilles is a really, really slow injury to recover from. I took it slow, coming back to running last year when everyone was racing which was hard.
“It took a super long time for that to heal, a lot of rehab, a lot of patience and my coach Danielle has been fantastic. 
“My boyfriend in the US, Alexey Vermuelen has given me nothing but unwavering support, and my family and my sport network have been fantastic, and SASI (South Australian Institute of Sport). 
“Everyone brought me to the line today to do my absolute best.
“Days like this makes everything worth it. I can’t believe it.
“I don’t have the result to back me; I had never beaten a lot of these girls. We went into this event knowing it was going to be a foot race and with my running background I just had to back myself and it paid off.”
There are many components to Linn’s massive lift in performance – the belief of her coach, the support of the sports psychologist and nutritionists at the SASI, her family’s encouragement, …  and her training and life partner Alexey Vermeulen and their pet long-haired miniature dachshund.
They carry Sir Willie the Weiner on their backs (simultaneously of course) on their mountain rides – photos of which are a hit on Sophie’s Instagram account.

Vermeulen, a former road racer, is now a professional in the mountain bike circuit. 
“Alexey is a fantastic training partner. He’s mentally so strong. I try to race like him and embody him when I’m racing. He is so calm, pushes me and it’s so good riding hard together with Sir Willie on the back,” said Sophie.
“Sophie is a great story,” said Danielle who is looking forward to spending some time with her athlete in Girona, Spain, in the northern summer season in coming months. 
“To come back from what she has overcome … it’s so rewarding to see her do what she did today,” said Stefano.


“She’s done it tough over in America during the winter in Boulder and to come over here and having to overcome the Achilles injury last year and to beat a strong field today, it was all about confidence. 
“Devonport and Mooloolaba were just about getting back into racing, getting used to the intensity and processes of racing. 
“In Mooloolaba she was kicking herself that she didn’t back her run enough, she had a little bit more in the tank.
“We were talking last night about her race and it was all about confidence. 
“I said to her, ‘You’ve done the work, you know you can run, so go out and back yourself because you have nothing to lose’. 
“I’m so proud of how she put the race together. In the bike ride she was really smart positionally, staying up towards with the front pack but never was on the front driving. 
“We wanted to be safe but smart. Our big goal was to get through the transition first. 
“Even though she’s a bit older, Sophie is really raw and new to the sport of triathlon, so we haven’t seen the best of her yet which is exciting. 
“From today she has the confidence to back up the talent that she has definitely got. 
“I’m really excited about what this can open up for her race-wise. She can now get some opportunities to back herself and know she belongs there on the start-line with some of these girls.”