The triathlete of the Sines Refinery

João Rebelo, Process Engineer at Galp, is an example of the strength, tenacity and discipline... of a boy scout. Those are the features that are carrying him far in long distance triathlo

There is a Portuguese saying that goes “he who runs for pleasure never tires”. And João Rebelo, with the strength and dexterity of his 28 years of age, not only runs but also swims and pedals hundreds of kilometres a week without ever seeming tired. Despite his slender body, he is one of the (few) national "iron men".

Representing Vasco da Gama Atlético Clube de Sines as a triathlete, he competes in long distance triathlon races that can last up to 10 hours without a break. Most of his spare time, which includes mornings, afternoons and weekends, is spent training his body and mind. In between, he works as a Process Engineer at Galp, his first job since graduating in chemical engineering five years ago.

These are the two reasons why every day starts early and ends late for this employee. He wakes up at around 5.30 am, sometimes even earlier, and within the hour, come rain or shine, he’s already out running. He follows that with eight to nine hours of work at the Sines Refinery. Then, when he leaves at around 5:30 pm, it's back to the road, the pool or the sea for more training. In all, he devotes about 15 hours a week to sport, which has always been a great passion of his.

João started swimming when he was a child, but he didn't stop there. He always enjoyed running and cycling with his father at weekends. As he was never able to separate the three sports, about five years ago he decided to "seriously" devote himself to the triathlon, which unites his favourite sports in a single discipline.In its Olympic format, it comprises 1,500 metres of swimming, 40 kilometres of cycling and 10 kilometres of running. From that moment on, he started training regularly. He started slowly, as is always the case, covering short distances, but always with the ultimate goal of progressing to longer ones. So much so that last year he ended up taking part in the toughest of triathlon races, the long distance one also known as “ironman”. Essentially, it consists of a grand total of 3,800 metres of swimming, 180 kilometres of cycling and, he explains, "after all that we run a marathon, which is over 42 kilometres. Compared to the standard Olympic distances, this race is four times more challenging, both physically and mentally”.


Having reached this level, João Rebelo now seeks to keep up the pace and continue to evolve. "My main goal is never to compete for results, but to excel, to continue to evolve, to do the best I can. If that leads to good results, all the better," he says.

"My main goal is never to compete for results, but to excel"

The truth is he is getting the results and they are increasingly promising. In October last year, in the big race in Cascais, he finished third in his category and thus qualified to the world championship, to be held in Hawaii. It will be a return to his origins, in a race that will bring together the best athletes in the world in each category, including 10 to 15 Portuguese, next October.

Between training, competing and his professional activity, one of the biggest challenges for this "Galp energiser" is spending time with his family, his friends and for the rest of his social life, since during the weekends he is a scout at Lobitos, supporting children from ages six to ten.

One thing seems clear: discipline, ingenuity and good "processes" are not lacking in this engineer who never gives up on his dreams, pouringthis mentality that helps him overcome challenges into his work.