Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'Coach Reflections On Beijing' talk in Ontario

I've been asked to speak at the Coaches Association of Ontario's 'Coach Reflections on Beijing' event on October 26th. Its really an honor to speak at the same event as two of the giants of Canadian coaching: Mike Spracklen and Pierre Lafontaine. Both men have had a significant influence on my own coaching. Such is their influence in Canadian sport, that without even knowing either one personally, just listening to them speak and seeing them walk the talk of high performance inspires me to raise my game.

I just hope I can be a "riveting" speaker - its a bit daunting to put together a hour long presentation, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences of Beijing both with the preparation and the competitions.

Here are the details of the event:

Coach Reflections On Beijing: Conquering the Wall

Take your coaching to new heights and listen as Olympic coaches returning back to Canada share lessons learned from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Moderated by Sheilagh Croxon, Olympic Coach, Synchronized Swimming and Chair of the Coaches Association of Ontario, our list of riveting speakers include:

Joel Filliol, Triathlon,
Pierre Lafontaine, Swimming
Mike Spracklen, Rowing


In partnership with the CN Tower, the event takes place on Sunday, October 26, 2008 from 9am-4pm at the Maple Leaf Theatre - CN Tower. The cost is $65 or $50 if you're a CAO Member and includes a light lunch, as well as an opportunity to ascend the CN tower at the end of the presentations.

Seats are limited, and registration is filling up quickly! To secure your sport, visit https://www.karelo.com/enter_res.php?&BID=154#Ev6498 to register.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beijing: The Men

Closing Ceremony, originally uploaded by jfilliol1.

Someone recently pointed out that I hadn't yet posted my thoughts on the mens race. The performances we saw from Simon and Colin really did the talking from my perspective. There isn't a lot to add that hasn't been said in any number of interviews, but I'll add some of my observations here.

After the competitions were completed the team moved from the Jundu villas into the Olympic Village. We had a great time checking out the other events and soaking up the Olympic experience. I saw athletics a couple of times, along with diving and mountain biking. The closing ceremonies were great and we partook in a visit or two to the village McDs. Good times. Overall impressions of the Beijing Games were very good, organization was smooth and the venues were fantastic. A tough act to follow for London.

So onto the mens race... The swim was a more tactical swim, similar to what we saw in the women's race. No great separations in the water and a large main pack out together. Colin and Simon were out in fine position, mid pack and didn't have to chase very long to crest the first time up the hill at the front of the bunch. Our team tactics were discussed plenty in the Canadian media and it was no secret to the other teams what our strategy would be. So Colin went to the front during those crucial first few laps and controlled the race by chasing down any gaps and keeping the momentum up as needed. Early on during the bike I was nervous that a break might get away as my impressions were that it seemed pretty active at the front as different athletes tested out the pack. Colin did a great job keeping the situation under control and Simon also stayed near the front to keep and eye on things as needed. We really wanted to make sure he got the chance to run with the main favorites out of T2 and that strategy along with the dynamics of the race, the conditions, and the course benefited all the favorites in a similar way, although knowing that we had options to use if needed no doubt saved some level of energy for Simon. When the break of three got away near the end of the ride, that was the perfect group to gain a small gap, and the boys just monitored for counter attacks at that point. Colin led Simon into T2 in fine position and mission #1 was accomplished.

Early on in the run the pack was a good size, with the big boys perhaps waiting to start their charge given the heat, and not wanting to risk hitting the pace too earl, then blowing with so much on the line. Although I haven't seen the TV coverage of the race yet, one defining moment came with Rana lifting the pace on the hill on the second lap. That seemed to really separate the bunch and gave a preview of who might have the legs for a medal on the day. Up until that point we hadn't seen Javier's usual charge and Rana's move seemed to be the ideal opportunity, however it never came and the group was down to the select 5-6 for the final 2 laps.

A question I've been asked frequently is whether I was thought Simon was done for, when he kept having to close small gaps that would open to the front 3-5, and of course the answer is yes it was worrying. With the hot conditions and level of competition you don't usually see athletes claw back on after being gapped, even if just small gaps, but Simon was able to come back on each time and keep himself in the hunt. Coming into the final straight, I was in my usual position just before the final water stop. I was screaming as loud as I could for him to give everything to get back on, loud enough that all the spectators and officials around that area were staring at me....

Finally the visor with thrown off and the long kick started. After he sped past where I was standing I hoofed it over the bridge and down to the finish area so I didn't even get to see a lot of the final action, but I wasn't really in a state to analyze what was happening as the energy and emotion of the moment was right there, everything we had worked at for 4 years was coming down to this opportunity over the next 60 seconds. Seeing pictures later it took Simon much of the back straight to charge back on and make contact. From there a short pause and he went around keeping the momentum going. A number of people commented that they thought he went too early, and I can only say that he gave so much to get back on that maintaining the rhythm and flow of the push seemed to be the best option at the time. Who knows really what might have been, as we've seen some awesome kicks from Bevan, and Frodo was a bit of an unknown. The kick totally spread out the final four and only a huge charge by Frodeno in the final 50m saw the gold slip away.

The emotion at the finish was overwhelming... over the years I'd imagined what sort of response I might have to achieving such a huge goal, but I wasn't really prepared when it actually happened and seeing our team chiro Rob caused a few tears to come flowing out...

There was some irony in Simon being out-kicked by a German this time, given he out kicked Vukovic in Sydney, but Frodo was ready for the opportunity and took it with a fantastic race and well timed finish. He was perhaps a bit of a sleeper, but he did have six world cup podiums coming into Beijing. Beven has been so consistent the last few years and now is a two time Olympic medalist, and finally Javier finishing in fourth speaks to the quality of the podium on the day. I said it many times before the race, but we truly felt that there were 10-12 guys who had legitimate chances at a medal on the day and a well executed race could have meant any result in the top 10. Anyone who wanted to medal needed a number of the right things to happen on the day and be ready for the opportunities when and if they presented themselves, and if needed to create those opportunities. To come into the race with the pressure of being a true medal contender, with that pressure and expectations, dealing with those factors along with the ups and downs of training, recovery and preparation in the months leading into the race and then being able to make the right decisions in the race at the right times, made achieving a medal performance a fantastic victory for Simon, for Colin and for the entire support team that believed in the process and goal all along.

I could not have been more proud of the performances of Colin and Simon as a team, and of the efforts Simon made on the day to come back on each time he was gapped, and give himself every opportunity with that final charge back into medal position. As a coach, you can only hope that all the training, and everything that you do to prepare and support an athlete in the months and years leading up to a race like the games can prepare an athlete to be ready for the opportunity when its there. All I could ask is that an athlete gives everything they have on the day, and to do so with all the pressure and everything on the line made the challenges and sacrifices that go into an Olympic campaign all worth it. It was not even just the result of the medal itself, but the way it was won, racing with courage, and heart, and that is what seemed to resonate with so many people across Canada and the world even. The mens triathlon was apparently the highest rated Olympic event on CBC and to be able to play a role in that performance was a fantastic experience for me.

So where to from here? I am taking my first real holiday in a long time... currently on a road trip through the Canada/US with stops in Penticton, Boulder, Las Cruces, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas, where I'll check out the Interbike show before heading back to Vic, then over to Kona for Ironman. Whether I re-sign with Triathlon Canada or go in a different direction is still up in the air. With success comes many options and there is interest from other federations, and also significant potential to re-enter the private world. So over the coming weeks and months I will evaluate all my options and decide where my next focus will be. I'm fortunate to have had success in a number of areas within the triathlon scene and am in a position to decide the next steps based on what I will enjoy the most, and what kinds of challenges I am most excited about.

Finally I want to thank everyone who believed in me, and supported me through the process to get to this point. Sport isn't an easy business, and I wouldn't have had the success I've had without great people around me.

In the meantime, I'll try to post some more original content when I am so inspired or when I have something newsworthy to post about.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Colin Jenkins on FloTrack

Simon, Colin Medal Pics, originally uploaded by jfilliol1.

Colin Jenkins

Christopher Kelsall
September 8, 2008

(c) Christopher Kelsall - 2008 - All Rights Reserved.

You may remember Colin Jenkins, the Canadian triathlete who celebrated finishing the Beijing Olympics Triathlon more than any other athlete did. He was joyously demonstrative running down the home stretch, motioning to the crowd to cheer more as he ambled in - and cheer they did! Yet Colin was finishing dead last.

Considering this, you may wonder why he was celebrating so much. For those of you who may not follow triathlon very closely, Colin was celebrating because he had just done his job as instructed, to the letter. Like in hockey, he scored an assist helping fellow Canadian, Simon Whitfield score an Olympic Games silver medal, mere seconds from gold.

Read the rest on FloTrack

Monday, September 8, 2008

Colin Jenkin's Olympic Special Cervelo SLC-SL

Bike Course RIde Day 2, originally uploaded by jfilliol1.

Colin Jenkin's Olympic Special Cervelo SLC-SL new

Written by: Jordan Rapp
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008

Slowtwitch: Light weight was obviously a primary focus on the bike, can you explain why you felt weight would be a major factor during this race?

I thought that weight would be a major factor in the Olympics because we had to climb a substantial hill six times during the bike portion. Knowing how World Cup style racing works, most of the attacks would come from the climb, and it would be very important to be able to respond to these attacks and get to the top of the hill with spending the least amount of energy. At the race in Athens, the climb on that course played a big role in the outcome of the race, so I wanted to be prepared for people trying to do the same thing in Beijing.

Read the rest at Slowtwitch.com