“Positive Thoughts Will See Your Goals.”
I hang up the phone with Yiannis with a song stuck in my head. “Just trying to stay positive…” His mellow British accent and infectious positivity draw the old “The Streets” song from college, straight into my mind. I’m singing the rest of the day.
Whistling while I write this is fitting, given his infectious personality. Seemingly undaunted by any obstacle set back or bad run of news, Yiannis Christodoulou is here to show the average Joe they can do anything they want, if they have the right attitude. Late starts, bad breaks, and pandemics; they’re all part of his ride.
An age-group Triathlete and contender for the UK national title, he stepped into the sport with no athletic background and even fewer expectations. He’d played some soccer (football, in the UK) secondary school, and run a 5k fun run, when at age 29 he first his saw Triathlon on TV, watching the 2012 Olympic Games on television. The English Browning Brothers finished an amazing race to end 1st and 3rd and Yiannis’s heart skipped more than a few beats. He had to try this!
Soon afterwards, a friend challenged him to join the local running club and the journey had begun.
Cycling was next on his list, but with riding and his entrance to full-bore Tri training came a string of injuries. In quick succession he tore his calf – spending 6 months on the bench – then Injured his Achilles tendon due to bad bike fit and spent even more time way from training.
Undaunted, he used his recovery to focus on swimming, and found his strongest discipline. Though swimming is generally the hardest discipline for triathletes to pick up due to the intensive technical skills involved, he found it to be a natural fit. Fearful of re-injuring himself, he limited his focus to what his body was cooperating with, and where he was experiencing success – running and swimming. In 2016, just a few years after his journey to the sport began, he placed 3rd in his age division at the National Aquathon Championship, his second visit to the championships.
“I have a lot of motivation, and I’m prepared to work hard to be the best that I can,” he says.” He loves to train, and after his injuries learned to take a measured approach. He does easy workouts most days and intervals just once a week. “You can’t just go beast your body all the time, as much as you want to,” he says. You have to take care of yourself. He offers a unique blend of focus and joy in every workout.
At the 2016 European Aquathon Championships, the training and mindset paid off. He came out of the water dead last after a terrible swim in the rough open-waters, but made time back in the run. He caught the podium contenders with a hundred yards to go and reeled one in to earn 3rd place for the UK. “I just had to go for it,” he says. “I figured, ‘if I collapse, I collapse, but this is my shot.” Such is his strength of intention and the power of his belief.
Soon afterwards, determined to pursue his initial goal of racing triathlon, he returned to the bike. He got a professional bike fit to start off right and eased in, adding 30- minute spins. By now it’ll come asof little surprise that a year later he’d finished third in his first competition and then second overall (not age-group, mind you) at his next event.
Today his goal is return to the European games – this time in the tri – and bring home the champion title for Great Britain. He says high goals are what keeps him motivated and encourages others to do the same.
“I’m not a gifted athlete,” he says. “But I am a really hard worker and believe I can accomplish whatever I desire. I have to balance my professional and working life, since I am in no way a professional athlete. But to me it’s all an opportunity to see what I can do in this life. That’s what I want people to learn from me and I think it is why people have enjoyed following my progression.”
He’s right about us anyway. After all, we’re all just trying to stay positive.