Simon Whitfield has a knack for coming up big at the Olympics and he’ll get one more chance Tuesday at London’s Hyde Park.
The native of Kingston won the inaugural Olympic triathlon, in 2000, finished 11th in Athens four years later, then took silver in Beijing in 2008. Now 37, he won’t be coming into the London Games as a favourite, but he is still ranked 13th in the world and can never be counted out. Two other Canadians are also competing – Brent McMahon of Victoria and Kyle Jones of Oakville, Ont.
Whitfield has caused some controversy at the Olympics. On Sunday he blamed Canadian triathlon officials for the performance of Paula Findlay, who finished last in the women’s race on Saturday. Findlay, 22, has been injured for months, and Whitfield said the injury had not been treated properly.
Alan Trivett, executive director of Triathlon Canada, acknowledged some responsibility for Findlay’s lack of preparation, but he questioned the timing of Whitfield’s remarks so close to his own race.
Whitfield will be one of just two men Tuesday to have raced in all four Olympic triathlons. Hunter Kemper of the U.S. is the other.
Jones is on the edge of the world’s elites. He won a World Cup race in Edmonton last month.
But the big story of the event will be Britain’s Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan. The brothers, who are inseparable, finished in the top two spots in two major tune-up events this year with Alistair, 24, coming first and Jonathan, 22, second.
The Brownlees are not great swimmers, but they will try to get out of the water with the lead group, then work to build up a lead on the bike and hold it to the end. A third Brit, Stuart Hayes, is expected to work to help the brothers.
“The British have played this to an almost checkmate,” Whitfield said. “They have a team. They have the two best guys in the world and they have a team racer.
“Every guy in this race is trying to figure out the way to avoid this checkmate. We are trying to figure out a way to parlay that final pawn into a queen to knock out the king.”
There are 55 athletes in the triathlon, which is made up of a 1,500-metre swim, a 43-kilometre bike ride and a 10-kilometre run.