Vivienne Williams

Gymnast – Runner - Triathlete

Viv, together with her twin sister, as youngsters participated in almost all sports offered at their school, at the same time pursuing artistic gymnastics, together with their two older sisters

It was only post-school that Viv started running and her passion for triathlon grew.

Her Hammer sports journey began many years ago while training for long distance triathlon.

In 2008 Viv was approached by a trail runner asking her to partner him on a sponsored team for a five-day endurance trail running event, at the same time being introduced to the Hammer family and products. They went on to win the mixed section of this Cape Odyssey trail event. In Viv’s words ‘our nutrition plan was perfect, we endured all 5 long days of gruelling, exhausting but happy miles of trail. I have never looked back. Hammer has been a part of my long athletic journey ever since, ensuring success in managing nutrition and hydration during the events that have highlighted my career’.

Triathlon for Viv started way back in 1993 when she first represented South Africa as an age group athlete at the World championships, Olympic distance in Manchester England, together with her twin sister, Renée. Renée went on to win their age group, while Viv finished in the top ten and an internal competitive flame was lit.

1995 to the end of 1998 was spent travelling and representing South Africa as an Elite triathlete at World Cup and World Championship events, all with the aim of gaining necessary points to earn a start slot at the upcoming Olympics in 2000 in Sydney. Viv says ‘Travel and racing as a South African was really tough. We travelled with no manager, no coach, no technical or medical support. It was also becoming increasingly difficult, emotionally, for me to leave my husband and two young children behind. The goodbyes were hard! I chose to withdraw from pursuing this dream, my husband and parents were sharing the caring load of our children and I was literally missing out on something far more important’.

After this, Viv took a break from competing, she found her place back in the home, she never did stop training while working part-time as an Ultra sonographer/Radiographer and began coaching swimming.

A few years later she returned to triathlon racing and experienced success at age-group level. As a member of the Nestlé sponsored triathlon team, she raced a Sprint triathlon series, which consisted of 5 – 7 races each Summer. She remained unbeaten in the veteran division for five

successive years. During this time, her swimming squad grew exponentially, she was travelling with and coaching the National Junior triathlon team, she was also involved with coaching youngsters at a township school, while setting up her triathlon Coaching Academy.

This all required more time away from her work, more than what the medical profession could allow. Viv then moved to work as Head of Sport at a local girls high with the conditions that she would be able to travel and pursue her coaching and athlete roles.

2007 saw her first Age Group World title in Hamburg, Germany at the Olympic Distance World

Championships. World long distance Championships 2012, hosted in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain, provided Viv with another age group win.

In 2014, at the International Triathlon Union Congress in Edmonton Canada, she was awarded the ITU Women’s Award of Excellence for the work she was doing in Developing Female athletes.

After returning home from the World 70.3 Championships held in Mont Tremblant Canada, she had goals to continue her successful racing streak, having just won the silver medal after ‘being pipped at the post’ and being denied the win.

‘But my plans were not God’s plans’, says Viv ……. Injuries and crashes:

In February 2015, while running during an Xterra event, she ‘totally shredded’ her ankle, tearing ligaments and tendons and sustained a fibular avulsion fracture.

The following years she crashed twice off her bike, breaking the metacarpal bones in her left hand and a few months later her left collarbone in another unnecessary avoidable bike crash.

A life-changing visit to a negligent chiropractor in 2017 saw her triathlon career come to an abrupt holt. Her right sciatic nerve was damaged by excessive continual and painful manipulation in the glute region, leaving her right side damaged. Viv ended up needing back surgery (L4/L5 laminectomy and discectomy) resulting in permanent nerve damage and loss of sensation and reduced control of the right mid and forefoot.

Back at it, planning for 2022

After years of continuous physical therapy and rehabilitation and a ‘pandemic pause’, this nearly-60- year old has her sights set on returning to racing. In Viv’s words, ‘Well not racing, but competing’. She is very grateful and relieved that she can still swim, bike and run and her plans are to participate in three half-ironman events, all taking place in South Africa this year. ‘I have had to accept the loss of neuro-muscular connection and huge nerve-fatigue type pain that sets in on the right side of my body’.

Together with Hammer partnering her, she also plans to be on another age-group podium somewhere, sometime in the future.

Viv is based in Cape Town. She coaches Swim, Bike and Run full-time and owns a triathlon Coaching Academy (SCR Academy)

She is also a qualified Level 2 World Triathlon Coach and works with World Triathlon as a Coach Facilitator.