- Sarah Crowley CA competed in her first triathlon in 2004, the same month she started as a graduate at Deloitte.
- Her dream to compete in the 2012 London Olympics was derailed by a complicated injury.
- After years combining her accounting career and triathlon training, Crowley became a full-time triathlete in 2018.
As told to Sally Rose
Growing up in Adelaide, I loved sport, including softball. I studied for a Bachelor of Commerce (accounting and finance) at Flinders University. In 2003, just before graduation, I watched a run-swim event at Glenelg Beach and thought ‘that looks fun’.
My first triathlon was the 2004 Australia Day event in Adelaide. That same month, I started in the Deloitte graduate program. The next couple of years were very busy. And 2006 was a big year – I got married and won Deloitte Business Woman of the Year (junior category).
Deloitte granted me six months’ leave to train at the Queensland Academy of Sport. A third place in the Noosa Triathlon 2008 allowed me to apply for a licence to compete professionally. It was amazing to be on the podium with Beijing Olympic medallists Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffatt.
I stayed working at Deloitte in Brisbane until the beginning of 2012, then moved to GE for a couple of years as an FP&A [financial planning and analysis] manager, and completed the GE RISE leadership program.
Following a complicated hip injury in 2009, I made a confronting choice to drop plans to train for the London Olympics and go back to work full-time. In 2014, I became a director of corporate finance at Deloitte Australia. Then in 2016, I started working with triathlon coach Cam Watt. My trajectory since has been insane.
2017 was a huge year of big wins: the Asia-Pacific Ironman Championship, the European Championship and more. Then at the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona I came off the bike, but still placed third.
After the crash in Hawaii my pelvis had been tilted, and training through it had created a stress fracture in my sacrum.
I won the Goondiwindi Hell of the West race in February 2018 without realising I had a cracked back.
“I won the Goondiwindi Hell of the West race in February 2018 without realising I had a cracked back.”
I didn’t do a single race for six months, until the Ironman European Championship at the end of June, where I placed third. Then I won Ironman Hamburg and the Santa Cruz Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman) and thought, I’m back. I returned to being a full-time athlete and capped off the year by winning the Ironman South American Championship in Argentina.