Silvia Ribeiro: A Humble Superwoman


Most people go to college, graduate and get a job. Silvia Ribeiro got three.

Ribeiro was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and began swimming at age 5. She went to college at the University of Sao Paulo, and played volleyball professionally from 1994 to 2000. While most of her life had been dedicated to sports, she got her degree in odontology, and became a dentist upon graduation.

But it didn’t stop there.

One day on her way home from work, Ribeiro’s beau- ty was recognized by a modeling scout on a street in Brazil, and Way Models quickly signed her. Almost immediately, Ribiero put aside her odontology career and became a traveling model, and worked in Mexico, Miami, New York, Paris, Milan, Barcelona and others. This busy lifestyle, however, made it hard to keep up with her love of athletics.

“Things happened so fast – I started traveling a lot, and when I was in Germany for modeling, I was watching videos on triathlons and Ironmans and got hooked,” Ribeiro said. “Then I started to run by myself.”

Ribeiro then moved to New York for two and a half years, and while it was a difficult place to train, she continued to run when she had time.

“I remember I went for a jog in Central Park, I saw this guy riding a bike and I thought it was awesome,” Ribeiro said. “I actually stopped him to ask about his bike, and he was super nice. Then I got my first bike.”

Although the bike was just a road bike and hard to ride, Ribeiro became a more comfortable cyclist, which led to her first race: the Spring Triathlon in Miami in 2011. From there, she started training with a coach and a team, and her triathlon career took off.

Now, living in Boulder, Colo., Ribeiro continues to be a fashion model while competing in races all over the world. She has done both sprint and Olympic distance Ironmans, but her favorite is the Ironman 70.3 Miami, where she placed in the top 15 twice.

Unfortunately, Ribeiro injured the femoral nerve in her thigh in early spring, and has been taking time off to recover for the Chicago Triathlon in August. It will be her first time competing in Chicago.

“I think the worst part for me is when I get injured because you’re not able to train,” she explained. “But even when I’m struggling, it’s good because I’m doing what I love.”

Jim Garfield has managed athletes for 10 years at JLG Management in Los Angeles, and when he first met Ribeiro, he knew he had to jump on the opportunity to work with her.

“I first met her in Hawaii, where her husband was running an Ironman,” Garfield said. “I thought she was an interesting looking woman, and I soon realized she’s also very unique. The more I knew about her, the more I was intrigued.”

Two years later, Garfield expressed how he loves how approachable, humble and inclusive she is.

“She is open to being a constant ambassador to the sport,” he explained. “When you have someone that is so embracing to everything the sport has, it makes my job very easy… She is really willing to share the journey and that makes a big difference.”

Along with everything else Ribeiro does, she main- tains her own blog on Here, she shares her thoughts and experiences, and also gives advice to athletes.

“Enjoy the ride,” Ribeiro encouraged. “Triathletes get so anxious because they want to ride fast and run fast … be patient and consistent and enjoy it.”

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.