One look at the home page of Emma Bilham’s website and you know you have found a triathlete with a sense of humour.
Describing herself as “a professional triathlete - racing up and down hills on short legs”, she adds that she is also “an entrepreneur, a mountain lover and a rebel”.
“Life is too short to stay in one place, drink bad wine and ride flat roads,” she explains.
That has certainly been the case for the Swiss competitor with “British blood”, as she puts it, who turned to triathlon after becoming “bored” with swimming.
“I have a love-hate relationship with swimming because it's the original Emma, but I've done too many lengths to really enjoy it any more,” she says.
“I can't get enough of cycling now because you can go so far and see so much.”
It has certainly proved a wise switch, as her maiden 70.3 IRONMAN victory in 2015 in Putrajaya, Malaysia was followed by first places in Barcelona (2016) and Pays d’Aix, France (2017). Then in 2019 Emma won her first full IRONMAN in Ireland.
In addition to these victories, she also registered triumphs at Challenge Gran Canaria and Challenge Galway in 2016, the Alpe d’Huez and Natureman triathlon events in France in 2018 and the Gérardmer Triathlon in 2019.
Emma’s love of hills was also emphasised by her victory at the Cannes International Triathlon in 2017. But that Alpe d'Huez success remains her most painful in triathlon.
“I went out too fast and bonked at the start of the last (massive) climb,” she recalls.
“I didn't know how I was going to get to the top. I still don't know how I did.”
Tripping over the finishing line at the 70.3 World Championship and almost knocking herself out was another memorable moment for Emma, albeit one she counts as her most embarrassing. But she is proud “to have kept fighting to be a triathlete despite a lot of setbacks”.
Despite all of those setbacks, Emma says she is proud to have hung in there and found a work-tri-life balance which allows her to keep pushing and living for the sport she loves.