IRONMAN: How an accident at the Tour De France empowered Steven Phillips to return to triathlon

It’s been a long road for Steven Phillips on his way to Saturday’s IRONMAN World Championship triathlon in St. George.

In July 2019, Phillips and nine of his closest friends traveled from England to France to watch the Tour de France.

On July 11, 2019, Stage 6 of the race, cyclists began their first climb into the Vosges Mountains in Eastern France for a 99.7-mile day.

After spending a day watching and cheering on the cyclists, Phillips, an avid cyclist and triathlete, and his friends started the climb back down one of the low-lying mountains when a pedestrian stepped out in front of Phillips.

Traveling at approximately 75 km/h, Phillips swerved and crashed into a barrier and was thrown from his bike, landing on the pavement, hitting his head. He still can’t remember what happened afterward.

“That’s kind of where that day ends for me,” Phillips recalls. “The rest of the day is filled in by my friends.”

He considers himself fortunate that he was watching the Tour De France at that stage, as paramedics who were working the race were able to arrive quickly after the accident.

Phillips suffered a brain injury and was in the hospital for a few days before returning home.

The year prior, Phillips had completed IRONMAN Copenhagen in a time of 10:52:59.

Following that race, Phillips and his wife both agreed that he would stop competing in triathlons to spend more time at home with their three kids.

Phillips started out as a marathoner in his 20s, competing in the London, Stockholm, and Berlin marathons, but eventually flipped to triathlons.

“I was just always looking for that next adventure,” said Phillips. “And this was that next adventure.”

He completed his first half-marathon in the Cotswold’s in England in 2014.

Following the incident in France, it took Phillips three months to climb back on a bike, slowly working his way back.

“I just had to slowly build that confidence back up while on the bike,” said Phillips. “It was probably six months or so before I was fully comfortable being back on a bike.”

Motivated by his accident, Phillips wanted to get back into IRONMAN, to prove to himself and others that even a traumatic brain injury couldn’t stop him.

“My mindset was that I’m not going to let this injury define me, I was going to take control of this,” Phillips said. “You have to make the best of what you have.”

Once again, consulting his wife, Phillips began his way back to being an IRONMAN athlete.

On Saturday, she, and the rest of his family, will all be there to cheer on Phillips as he crosses the finish line at the IRONMAN World Championships.

Sean Ellertson is a sports reporter for the St. George Spectrum & Daily News. To continue to support his work, please subscribe to The Spectrum. Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanEllertson.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #travel #tours – original source here

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