“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that will feature pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com.
If you’ve followed Ironman racing at any point during the past 29 years, especially the wonderfully international World Championships, the name Fernanda Keller is surely one you know. After all, the professional from Brazil has graced the women’s top-10 podium 14 times, six times finishing third. Talented and tough, beautiful to behold and beloved in her native Brazil and around the globe, Keller has always been an athlete I‘ve admired. Her positive radiance and personal manner are hard to resist! While crushing the course or while partying post-race, she always seems to have that “it” factor of innate style – that thing that other women are in awe of and men are simply awestruck by.
A few years ago, I was introduced to Keller in Kona and her warmth and friendship were immediate. And my instinct was right – her inner beauty equals, if not exceeds, that which is obvious on the outside. She’s spirited and open from the get go, exuding a Brazilian beach culture ease and kindness with her smile. But she doesn’t just kick back and relax in the life she’s built as one of the world’s best endurance athletes. Keller gives back through the Fernanda Keller Institute, an organization she created to help low-income and disadvantaged Brazilian youth excel through athletic and educational opportunities.
Now, at 49 years old, Keller’s energy, enthusiasm, and easy-breezy yet elegant beauty are unmistakable as ever. And she’s just launched a new project, a line of fitness and casual apparel showcasing her personal style that will make fashionistas around the world rejoice. The line officially launched in Ipanema (where else!) on Sept. 4 at the hotspot beachfront Fasano Hotel (Fasano.com). Keller also came to Kona in October where she modeled samples of her signature designs. The pieces are simple and sexy yet high style, beautiful yet performance-driven, functional and fashionable – much like Keller herself! They’re also available online to ship worldwide, so you (or the favorite female in your life) can share a bit of Brazilian va-va-voom.
I chatted with Keller as to her inspiration for the line, her own fantastic fashion sense and where Ironman fits in her future plans.
Triathlete.com: You are always so fashionable, whether out to dinner or in a training session. Why is it important to you to always look good?
FK: Thanks for the “always look good!“ I just love to wear what I think is beautiful. I dress thinking that every situation is a special moment and never leave something for another day. Like a kid, if I get a new dress I wear it right away.
Triathlete.com: How would you describe your personal style?
FK: I like to play with clothing and my inspiration goes fully with what I love to wear. My style is free and I love colors and what is the best fit for me. I don’t follow fashion rules because they make us victims.
Triathlete.com: What things serve as sources of inspiration for your sportswear designs?
FK: My inspiration is Rio de Janeiro and Hawaii lifestyle – the beautiful nature of the Islands and the Rio beaches that are full of style. Also the triathlete lifestyle that was created for us more than 30 years ago!
Triathlete.com: Would you say that three (the position you finished six times in Hawaii) is your lucky number?
FK: I would say that Kona is always the race where I want to be. It was my dream to be there in 1986 and still today! To get the most top ten finishes in the history of the race with 14 times top ten, including my six times top three, is because I love it and I have the desire. My motivation goes beyond the professional racing.
Triathlete.com: What are your future plans for racing? Have you retired from competition?
FK: I will never retire from racing because I have an athlete’s soul. I will be in Kona 2013 racing and celebrating my 30 years of racing triathlon and loving it all!
To learn more about the life and career of Fernanda Keller and the Fernanda Keller Institute, visit Fernandakeller.com.br