Starting to reap sporting rewards so early on encouraged him to make a full commitment to his career as a triathlete. “I was aware that not everyone can aspire to compete at an international level or go to the Olympics,” recalls three-time world triathlon champion Mario Mola of Mallorca. University could wait – he eventually graduated with a degree in business administration – but getting on the train to become a sporting legend could not.

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Mallorcan Mario Mola. Photos: Javier Theilacker.

Mola is still active – this 2023 he won the duathlon world champion in Ibiza – but he is aware that “the moment of maximum splendour is behind him”. In addition, his family situation with the also triathlete Carolina Routier, has changed. “Fortunately, we became parents a year and a half ago and sport takes a back seat. And in triathlon you either have to be 100% or it’s very difficult to compete with those who are. Even though I still want to compete, I know that what I did for ten years was to live and work hard for the sport”. Those were years of packing his suitcase in December and not returning to the island until October. “We have never had days off. Now when I go out to eat with the family, I realise what I was giving up; at the time it was my job and I enjoyed it”.

He also has more time to spend on his island, where the Federation has formed a training group that connects him with the younger generation. “We are not aware of how lucky we are here to be able to practice outdoor sport in a safe way. In other places like New Zealand or Australia you are struck by the lack of respect for cyclists”. Mola observes that young people “are more used to having everything faster and that means that sometimes they don’t have the patience we had to work towards a result that won’t come tomorrow or the day after, although they are very prepared.

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Paris Olympics in the air

With the Paris Olympics just around the corner, Mola has not given up hope of going, although he is aware of the difficulty involved. “If my current pace is enough for me to be competitive and participate, fantastic, but if not, I have no problem, because I know that the Olympics require maximum dedication and I don’t want to give up this new stage of my life”. He has set himself shorter and more achievable goals. “I’m doing the cross season, I’ll prepare for some races in winter, maybe the European duathlon… and then we’ll see what happens”.

With an eye on the future, he will also study a sports-themed MBA in February, as he recognises that the combination of sport and finance would be a good combination for his post-sporting life. “Exploiting social media is an easy way out, but I wouldn’t want to be in the spotlight, I’ve never been comfortable in it. I’d rather go to a school and talk to the students than share an image on social media, even if both actions have the objective of motivating young people to do sport”.

The Mallorcan is clear that he prefers a gradual transition rather than suddenly facing “the abyss and spending a few years terribly sunk. I’ve made up my mind that nothing lasts forever. I will miss the excitement of having that extreme attention when you compete, but now I have to find it somewhere else and this is my only fear, not finding something that motivates me and excites me like sport has done”.

💡 Report included in the magazine Mallorca Global Mag, autumn-winter edition 2023-2024.

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