Date posted: 12/04/2019 5 min read

How Sarah Crowley went from accountant to professional triathlete

Sarah Crowley CA started triathlons and at Deloitte the same month. By 2018, she was an Ironman champ, with a cracked back.

In Brief

  • 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

Early days

Sarah Crowley CA Early Days

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’.


Sarah Crowley CA marriage

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).


Sarah Crowley CA in the Noosa Triathlon 2008

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.


Sarah Crowley CA with coach Cam Watt

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.


Sarah Crowley CA - the Asia-Pacific Ironman Championship

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.


Sarah Crowley CA - Goondiwindi Hell of the West Race

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.”
Sarah Crowley CA

Sarah Crowley CA

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.