James Cunnama began competing professionally in triathlon in 2007 and he has been a regular on the podium since.
Growing up in one of South Africa’s sporting hotbeds, Pietermaritzburg, it was ironic that his love for the sport came about after he moved to Port Elizabeth to study at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
James volunteered to assist at the 2004 and 2005 IRONMAN South Africa races, and after watching the event close up, decided to give triathlon a go. He was hooked.
He excels at middle and full distance and has victories over the latter in Florida (2010), Hamburg (2017) and France (2019) as well as lifting the 2012 European Champion title over long distance.
James has also won numerous titles on the 70.3 circuit, including one on home soil in South Africa in 2014 (held in East London).
Success has also come twice for Cunnama at the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon, his victory in 2010 was his first professional triathlon success and unsurprisingly the event is his favourite.
James has also come close to medalling at the World Championship in Kona, finishing fourth in 2013 and fifth in 2017.
Becoming a professional endurance athlete was no surprise for James as both his parents competed in marathons. He discovered the art of long-distance running at an early age, regularly joining his mother’s running group known as the ‘Pukers’.
The one thing James cannot live without is coffee, his favourite cheat meal is pizza and his favourite sport away from triathlon is football. He is driven by the desire to be the best and the proudest achievement in his life is raising his three children with wife and fellow triathlete Jodie Swallow.
The best advice James has been given in the sport is “not to be afraid of rest, and not be afraid of hurting,” and his most embarrassing moment to date was forgetting to take off his swim-skin before the cycle stage of a race.