Forget Disneyland, Sophie Coldwell is writing her own fairy tale after soaring to victory in the World Triathlon Championship Series.
The 28-year-old from Nottingham struck an emotional gold in the second World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) event of the season in Yokohama, and celebrated with a trip to the famous theme park.
The win adds to her silver medal from the series opener in Abu Dhabi and the triathlete made a statement of her talent as she charged over the line in Japan, with a generous 17 seconds between her and second place.
And after a challenging few years of hard work and struggle, Coldwell is cashing in.
“It hasn't quite sunk in yet but it was a bit of a surreal weekend,” she said.
“Trying to perform well and get on the podium is always a big one for me but to win was not expected.
“I've been doing triathlon for a long time and I'm obviously talented but wasn't always super talented.
“I'm not an exceptional runner, or as fast as Jess [Learmonth] on the swim, so it's just been through pure hard work and a lot of effort that has enabled me to progress to get on the podiums.
“I always wondered how cool it would be on the World Series and to maybe be on a podium and it's been an awful long time to go on.
“I hadn't really thought about winning one as I didn't really think I was good enough, so this has just meant so much to me.”
Coldwell emerged from the swim as part of the leading pack in Yokohama, carrying her momentum into the bike before a speedy second transition saw a gap open and she held on for the win.
She now sits top of the WTCS standings with one gold and one silver.
And with her doubts now silenced, the British star was even able to soak up a bit of culture before flying back home.
"I knew I had to work on the run and it wasn't until the third lap where my coaches were saying that it was still like 30-35 seconds, and then I knew I could just enjoy the last kilometre," she said.
"The run isn't my strength and I've worked really hard on it because I'm always a bit nervous so it was nice to be able to soak in as much as I could.
"Georgia [Taylor-Brown] and I had a bit of a tourist day after the race, I was lucky enough to tour some stores in the morning and we went to Disneyland in the afternoon!”
Looking ahead to a stacked event calendar, Coldwell now hopes to replicate her WTCS success at the Olympic Test Event in Paris this August.
With Paris 2024 just one year away, Coldwell is keeping a level head and focusing on her Olympic dreams, all the while continuing to nourish her love for the sport.
"My aim for this year is to try and get as close as possible to that Olympic qualification," she said.
"If that comes with more World Series medals and something overall in the Championship, then that would be amazing.
"But the main goal for me is that Olympic team. If that happens that's amazing, but if it doesn't then I know that I will have tried everything possible.
"This season so far is already better than expected. I couldn't have imagined coming out and having two podiums in two races, with one being a win.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and not get over excited. I love triathlon and I love racing so I don't want to forget that part."
Image Credit: World Triathlon