Chelsea and Darrel Neal, a local dynamic dad and daughter duo, share an undeniable bond and love for competition. A tragic accident in Australia on September 4, 2016, nearly took Darrel’s life, but the incident brought this Frisco family closer and gave them a renewed determination to participate and triumph in the sport of triathlon.
During her dad’s convalescence, Chelsea contemplated the role triathlons played in her life. His injury and recovery rekindled her athletic and competitive spirit. “Even after Dad’s accident, and though he could hardly move from his recliner, his mind was set on getting back into training. That inspired me. And, when I watched him cross the finish line at Ironman Texas, that was a moment I will never forget! I always thought of Dad as being tough, strong and willing to endure anything. It was not until the odds were stacked against him and he persevered that I finally learned success is not achieved through talent or ability – it is achieved through heart, determination and a strong mind. I began doing sprint triathlons on a more regular basis and enjoyed training with Dad. One day, I swam the distance of a half Ironman. I wondered what else I could accomplish, and the next day, I signed up for my first half Ironman. About two months later, I signed up for my first full Ironman,” Chelsea shares.
This daughter and dad team began training together on a regular basis after Chelsea signed up for Ironman Waco 70.3 and the father and daughter competed in a few more sprint and Olympic races before this Ironman in October 2018. “We crossed the finish line together once again, but it was not easy for me. I realized I needed to spend the next few months strengthening my mind and sharpening my knowledge of endurance training. For the next six months, I spent equal time training and studying the sport to shift my mindset. In April 2019, my dad and I were both at the starting line of Ironman Texas. Fifteen hours later, I finally understood what it took to be an Ironman. All of the characteristics I admired about my dad and was inspired by – I had learned to dig deep and found within myself,” Chelsea says.
Darrel continues to inspire the community with his relentless passion for the sport. He coordinates training rides, runs and swims. He also coaches and puts together training plans. This father and daughter team is a true inspiration to many!