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Steven Galibert, winner of Nice Ironman, shares secrets of success

Steven Galibert champion Ironman Nice
© Ironman France

June 16, 2024 is a date that triathlete Steven Galibert is unlikely to forget, since he won the famous Nice Ironman that day. A member of AS Monaco Triathlon, he talks about the keys that unlocked the doors of victory for him.

On 16 June, Steven Galibert experienced one of the finest, if not the finest moment of his career to date: he was the first of the 4,500 Ironman participants to cross the finish line. In front of his family, his partner Marine, his friends and the thousands of spectators on the Promenade des Anglais, Steven pulled off an incredible performance, winning the race in 8 hours, 40 minutes and 14 seconds.


Steven, 32, is a lifeguard by profession and a triathlete by passion. Originally from the Tarn region, he has a Monaco club licence and therefore represents the Principality when he competes. We wanted to find out more about the champion. Who is he? How did he train to get to this level? What was the key to his success? Answers below!

Steven, to start with, please tell us about your sporting career so far?

Hello! Well I started sport when I was very young. I played football for 15 years, I didn’t start out as a triathlete. I discovered cycling with a friend, out of curiosity, and the more I did, the more I got a taste for it. You gradually increase the distance and the Ironman distance suits me best. I have been doing triathlons for 9 years now.

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Triathlon is not necessarily a discipline that you have to get into at an early age. If you find the right keys, you can start even later. I started when I was about 23 or 24. I’ve always had quite a lot of stamina, in football for example, so I didn’t start from scratch. That can help on a long race like the Ironman. On the other hand, in a short race format, you need to pick up some very specific skills relatively early on. Like in swimming for example, where I may still have some shortcomings.

I think the reason I’m enjoying my training and racing so much today is that I came to the sport late and I still have room for improvement.

I have to admit that if someone had told me 10 years ago that I was going to win an Ironman, I wouldn’t have believed it for a single second and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. Especially in Nice, because it is a very important competition for a triathlete.

© Instagram AS Monaco Triathlon

Can you describe a typical training day for an Ironman?

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As far as training is concerned, I’ve been under Karoly Spy’s supervision for five years now and we’ve established a routine based on my work schedule. No two days are alike, but weeks are very similar. I work 9 hours on Mondays, so that’s a rest day from training. I take some time for myself, coaching athletes, which also helps me learn from others.

Every week I have one big day, when I’ll do between 8 and 9 hours of sport with a long bike ride, a swim in the lake or in the pool and the rest of the week it’s 4 hours’ training per day. To sum up, it’s 4 hours five times a week, a big day of 9 hours and a day of rest.

In terms of diet, I got information from a nutritionist to understand my specific needs. On big training days I have to eat well because we tend to skip a meal. Otherwise, there is no special diet apart from having balanced meals with lots of vegetables and protein.

How did you prepare physically and mentally for the Nice Ironman? 

Physically, I started my preparation on January 1, 2024. That’s a total of six months’ preparation. I train for over 25 hours a week, between 25 and 30 hours. I have a job, so my routine is pretty tight.

Mentally, I think you have to take a step back from your events and tell yourself it’s just sport. You shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sport should be a plus, an escape. That’s how I see things. At the start of a race, I always say to myself that I’ve done what I needed to do in training and if it goes well on the day, so much the better for me, but if it doesn’t go well, I have no regrets because I know that I’ve done everything I could to be in the best possible shape.

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What stood out for you most during the race? 

What I really loved about the race was the bike ride. The Nice hinterland is absolutely superb. There are some magnificent landscapes. The atmosphere on the Promenade des Anglais also made a huge impression on me. It was crazy. There was a massive crowd.

When you’re cycling for 5 hours there are bound to be some difficult sections, so we chase away any negative thoughts to try to forget our legs are aching for 180 kilometres. The landscape allows us to forget the hardship and the pain. I really try to make the most of it, because we’re not all lucky enough to be able to do sport, we mustn’t forget that, and nature is a pure gift.

© Instagram Steven Galibert

Did you encounter any unexpected circumstances or major obstacles during the race?

Yes, my chain came off at the 45th kilometre! I have to admit it gives you a bit of an adrenaline rush. It’s an experience, it can happen to anyone any time. You fix it, you get back on and you forget about it. Apart from that, I never had any moments of doubt. There’s always a moment when I feel much better. Every time I do this type of race, it is somewhere between the 120th and 130th kilometre. That’s when I can feel that the end of the race will go well.

When did you know you were going to win the race? 

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It took me a while to realise that I was ahead and that I was going to win. It’s over 8 hours’ worth of effort. Right up to the end, you reckon anything can still happen. The machine might grind to a halt. I had a hard time believing I was first.

I went into the lead at the 29th kilometre, but I only really started to believe it when I was 3 kilometres from the finish. It didn’t feel real until I saw the guy in 2nd place again. When I spotted him, I realised that there was a gap between us and that I was almost there.

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line? 

Firstly, I was very surprised. I felt like I was in a tunnel because there were so many people. You’re locked in to this long final strait. What also had a big impact on me was that it was Father’s Day and the first person I hugged at the finish was my Dad. I wished him a happy Father’s Day. I won’t forget that in a hurry.

Then I met up with my girlfriend. Sure, there’s a banner and a finisher’s medal but there are people who deserve to raise the banner as much as me: my loved ones. About 10 minutes after finishing, I called my coach to thank him.

© Instagram Steven Galibert
© Instagram Steven Galibert

What do you think is the ultimate key to success in sport?

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I’m lucky enough to have lots of support from my partner, who is totally committed to the project, and she’s certainly the primary key to my success. No matter how much you train, if you don’t have support you can’t perform as well as I did in the race in Nice.

Steven Galibert and his partner Marine Andreotti © Instagram Steven Galibert

I also tend to say that when it comes to training, you should always take it slowly. Be very patient. Don’t try to do too much at once, or you risk getting injured. You need to work progressively so that the body can cope with the effort. So I recommend a lot of patience and self-confidence. I think that’s what sport should convey.

It was through sport that I gained self-confidence. Winning a race, achieving your objectives, you inevitably gain self-confidence. It’s rewarding, you feel like you’ve worked hard to get there. The pre-race is also very important, you have to try not to think about the race. Be with family if you can, try to get rid of stress with your loved ones. But patience is the real key to success.

Finally, what should we wish you for the future? 

On the sports side, I qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii at the end of October. So you can wish for me to have the same race as in Nice! To put in the best possible performance even though it will be a completely different place, with a hot and much more humid climate.

Work wise, I have a relatively stable situation. I’m not really looking to change that. My sport doesn’t pay much, if anything. For me, keeping my job on top of triathlons is important financially but also in terms of social connections.

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