Paradis Sport is thrilled to introduce Sika Henry as our newest ambassador. Henry is a Corporate Analyst for Ferguson Enterprises and a Professional Triathlete based in Newport News, VA. She started her athletic journey in high school in Montclair, NJ, as a swimmer. She went on to Tufts University and became an NCAA All-American in Track and Field as a high jumper and sprinter, while earning her degree in Economics. Her journey and mission in her sport are both extraordinary, and she tells it best:
“Back then,” Henry says, “I had no idea that long-distance running, cycling or swimming would become such a huge part of my life. I signed up for my first local sprint triathlon back in 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed the process of training and getting myself ready for this new event. After this race, I had two important realizations:
- I had a great time and that I would definitely want to participate in another triathlon and explore this community more
- There were no other black people competing alongside me. Why?
"It was then that I realized I had an important mission to fulfill - to create visibility for Black people in triathlons to push for diversity in the sport. This mission stuck with me throughout the years and was a large part of what brought me back to the sport after a gruesome bicycle crash in 2019 that left me hospitalized. During the 2019 Ironman 70.3 Galveston race, in order to avoid swerving into another bike, I crashed into a barrier, leaving me with significant injuries. I thought I was done for good. During this time I received incredible support from those following my journey and realized my mission was important to them and that it mattered. I had to keep going.
"Fast forward to 2021, I received my Pro Card and became the first U.S. Black female professional triathlete. It's been a whirlwind of activity but throughout everything, I knew this was something I needed to put my mind, body, and soul into.
”“I can’t just quit,” Henry remembered thinking. “What kind of role model would I be if I just gave up the second things got really bad or really hard?”
About six months after her crash, Henry competed in Ironman 70.3 in Augusta, Ga. She finished as the sixth amateur overall. A couple of weeks later, she competed in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, her first full Ironman race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run), crossing the finish line in 11 hours and 35 minutes.
Henry is a 2019 IRONMAN World Championship finisher and a Two Time Marathon Champ. In 2021, she made history when she became the first African American Woman to qualify for her pro card in triathlon. She was named Athlete of the Year as part of the 2020 Outspoken Women in Triathlon Awards for her work to advocate for and make positive change in the sport of triathlon. In May 2022, Henry was inducted into the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame.
In addition to being a phenomenal athlete, Henry is a champion for diversity in triathlon (her website points out that African Americans only make up 0.5 percent of the sport), her blog and social media are an open and honest account of her journey. We are incredibly proud to have her join our team of ambassadors - her grit and determination are an inspiration to girls and women everywhere.