Thursday, July 17, 2008

Years have changed Whitfield but his desire for an Olympic medal remains

Years have changed Whitfield but his desire for an Olympic medal remains


There have been changes in his sport and dramatic shifts in his personal life, but a constant remains buried inside triathlete Simon Whitfield.

He wants to win a medal at this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. The method of how he gets back on the podium may be different, but the desire remains the same.

"I'm a competitive bugger," Whitfield said recently, huffing over his cellphone while he rode his bicycle training in Victoria. "The way things are going I am on track to be very competitive, not just podium, but to possibly win.

"Of course that's the goal. That would be an extraordinary thing to do."

It will be an older, wiser Whitfield that will compete in the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike race and 10-kilometre run at the Ming Tomb Reservoir in the Changping District of northern Beijing on Aug. 19.

The kid who won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games has matured into a husband and father. With the responsibilities of maturity have come the security of family and an understanding of what is important in the world.

"I was a wide-eyed kid when I went to Sydney," said Whitfield, who turned 33 in May. "I had an amazing race on that one day and caught that Olympic fire.

"Now I'm a father. I'm trying to help run a training group, trying to be involved in helping Triathlon Canada grow. I have a lot more responsibilities. At times that feels like a bit of a burden and at times that's very rewarding.

"I think life is just a little more complicated now. But with (daughter) Pippa and (wife) Jennie, it's a lot more rewarding."

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