Hard to believe it has been eight years since I moved out to Victoria. When I came out here in 2005 I had my bike and a bag full of training gear. That was it. Simon picked me up at the airport and I settled in to a room at the Li family residence (their son Harvey used to race triathlon). I had no means of transportation. I rode my bike to swimming every morning. I caught the odd lift to the grocery store but otherwise I was eating, sleeping, and training. I was 20 years old with only one objective, soak up whatever I could from the Olympic Champion.
I got the impression that many people viewed it as an exclusive group and that you needed a special invitation from Simon to get in, which was funny because in reality, it was very different. Heck, I had little to no race experience but I committed and was therefore welcome. The philosophy was quite simple; you had to show up willing to do the work and commit to doing it day after day. The only catch was there was no end date; it wasn’t a four week, four month, or even four year commitment. You were either all in, or you were out. I never had a problem with it as I have always genuinely enjoyed putting in the hard yards.
Sport aside, moving across the country at the age of 20 came with some personal obstacles too. I missed my family. I missed the comfort of familiarity. I missed home-cooked meals! Holidays were hard but my family did everything they could to support me as we all knew I was where I needed to be in order to achieve my goals.
Financially it wasn’t always easy either but I lived a very minimalist lifestyle for a long time and eventually I figured it out and it paid off. It was a struggle but I knew that I would miss critical development time if I tried to figure out my finances and then go after my dream; I would have been too late.
This was also my approach to my education. I attended two different universities in the hopes of completing some sort of degree along with training full time. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my education and I wasn’t enjoying it because I felt like it was impeding my sport goals. When I made the decision to leave university I did it with the mindset that my opportunity to be an athlete was now and that I would return to school when my athletic career was over. This was the right choice for me and I don’t regret it. That being said, it may not be the right choice for everyone and at the end of the day you have to be accountable to yourself.
As a result of the move, I was exposed to the highest level of the sport and learned quickly what it was going to take to reach my goals. My development started to progress rapidly and the following year I was named to the National Team and began racing on the World Cup circuit. Then, my results started to get better on the circuit. I came up just short in 2008 but still traveled with the team to the Beijing Olympics as the alternate. Fast forward four years and I made that Olympic dream a reality in London and had undoubtedly my most successful season to date. To summarize, it’s been a long road and I’m still striving for more. Aside from a couple encounters with the pavement, my 2013 season looks promising coming off my best winter of training yet with the new squad.
This brings us back to the purpose of this update, my decision to move back to Ontario. There were a number of different factors that contributed to the move but to put it simply, it just didn’t make sense for me to be in Victoria anymore. Training under Joel and working with the squad means we’re not based in one particular location for the year. In fact, I am the only Canadian male in this squad and my new training mates are American, Spanish and South African. As a result, I need to be in a location that makes logistical sense. The last two seasons we’ve spent the winter in Clermont, Florida and aside from a couple early season races in Australia, the bulk of the ITU World Series takes place in Europe. These were all huge factors in our decision as it’s much easier traveling in and out of Toronto to these locations.
In addition, there are exciting times coming up in the GTA with the 2015 Pan Am Games being held in Toronto. We will be living in Milton which will present some unique opportunities that I look forward to. On a personal level, Kelly and I now have much more established careers and as a result are at much different points in our lives than we were eight years ago. In the next few years, support of all kinds will be paramount as we work toward our own individual career goals and having family close by is an added bonus!
The first part is done. Packing up our condo full of stuff. We put it all on a moving truck (5000lbs of it) a few days ago and we are hoping that it arrives at our new place. But, if it doesn’t that’s okay too, I’m traveling with everything I need… my bike, a bag full of training gear and my wife at my side.
The 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series got underway yesterday in Auckland, New Zealand. Just five months ago we were here wrapping up the 2012 season with the Grand Final where I had my best performance of the year with a 6th place finish. That performance was a huge step forward for me in my career and I was very much looking forward to taking that momentum into this race. Courses like this one don’t come around often and it’s one that suits me well so I was excited to come back here. I had a great winter of training in Clermont with my coach Joel Filliol and a stellar group of training partners, including Mario Mola from Spain. Mario and I have logged many hours of training together in the last 3 months and over the past few days we chatted about how cool it would be to share the podium together.
On to the race…everything was going really well. I was right where I needed to be in the swim, then rode in the lead group up until the 7th lap of 8 when a couple of athletes in front of me collided and took me out. Everything happened so fast, I’ll have to take a look at the coverage to see exactly what happened. My initial reaction was to get right back on my bike and continue riding but my chain had come off and was jammed in my derailleur. I eventually fixed it but lost nearly 4 minutes in the process. I finished the bike solo and headed out on to the run. I could have easily packed it in but to come all the way over here and not finish, while being in such good form, would be even more of a disappointment. It was quite a challenge to motivate myself to run hard knowing I was well out of contention and with no one in sight. About half a lap into the run I crossed paths with Javier and Mario leading the race going the other way on the course and used them to gauge where I was at in relation to their pace. The following lap at the same corner I was still within seconds of them and decided to keep pushing. It was motivating and yet very discouraging at the same time knowing what could have been.
Seeing the run splits after the race was very difficult for me. Had I not crashed and come off the bike with the group I would have been well in contention for a podium finish. But, it is what it is. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair but that’s sport. Of course the prize money would have been nice but to stand on the podium is what I have been training for and hopefully I can make that a reality this season.
Special congrats to my man Mario! Very proud of him!
CLERMONT, Fla.—Canada’s Kyle Jones completed a strong tune-up before the start of the World Triathlon Series kicks off next month with a fifth-place finish at the ITU Pan American Cup sprint race in Clermont, Florida on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Jones, who is the new leader of the Canadian men’s triathlon squad, tested his off-season training by completing the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course in a time of 54 minutes, 33 seconds.
“The first race of the year is always a toss up. Coming off a winter of solid training it is always hard to tell how the body will respond,” said Jones. “For the most part I was pleased with how I raced. I had a great swim placing myself in the top-10 out of the water, worked well with a small group on the bike, but unfortunately I didn’t have the legs on the run that I needed to compete for the win.”
Jones, of Oakville, Ont., is looking to take a major step forward in getting into the medal mix regularly with the world’s best after winning his first World Cup race last summer on Canadian soil in Edmonton – just weeks before making his Olympic debut in London where he finished as the top Canuck.
“In these sprint races there is little room for error so you have to be ready to really hit it for the five kilometres on the run.” added Jones. “With a bit more rest and recovery, I fell like I’ll be ready to roll come (the start of the World Triathlon Series) Auckland.”
Jones’ 24-year-old teammate, Andrew Yorke of Caledon, Ont., also had a solid debut for the 2013 season by finishing in sixth spot at 54:40.
Spain’s Mario Mola won the men’s race with a time of 53:56. Richard Murray, of South Africa, ran to the silver medal with a time of 54:12, while Jarrod Shoemaker, of the United States, locked up the bronze medal after clocking-in at 54:20.
Earlier in the day, Edmonton’s Paula Findlay officially brought her continued journey back into elite racing form onto the competitive start line for the first time. The 23-year-old Findlay, who has been training in Florida throughout the winter, got off to a solid start with a fifth-place finish of her own after posting a time of 1:00.51.
“The most important thing is it felt great to be back, and racing healthy,” said Findlay. “I have been working with an incredible group of girls, and we have been doing some hard training so I knew I was injury free. I’m not in race fitness yet, but that wasn’t the point today. I was pretty relaxed, but was a little nervous. It was really nice to go in a race with an open mind against the girls I’ve been training with.”
Findlay’s last two seasons have been marred by a nagging hip injury. Her last competitive start was a heart-breaking struggle to the finish at the London Olympics.
“This is the beginning of a long rebuild both physically and mentally for me and it is really important for me to feel like I can be a racer again,” said Findlay, who will start a Continental Cup race in Sarasota, Florida next weekend. “This is my first sprint race since 2008, then I’ll do my first Olympic distance race, and then I’m going to have to do my first World Triathlon Series race. Everything is new again. It will be a slow rebuild, but I’m happy and feeling good right now.”
Olympian, Sarah Goff of the United States, won the women’s race with a time of 1:00.17. Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen ran her way to the silver-medal position on the podium with a time of 1:00.23, while Kaitlin Donner, of the United States, placed third at 1:00.44.
Canada sent 23 athletes to the start line in Florida. For a complete list of results, please visit www.triathlon.org.
The World Triathlon Series gets underway in Auckland, New Zealand, April 6-7, 2013.
Complete ITU World Cup Results (750 metre swim, 20 kilometre bike, 5 kilometre run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Six Men’s Results:
1. Mario Mola, ESP, 53:56; 2. Richard Murray, ESP, 54:12; 3. Jarrod Shoemaker, USA, 54:20; 4. Joao Pereira, POR, 54:29; 5. Kyle Jones, Oakville, Ont., CAN, 54:33; 6. Andrew Yorke, Caledon, Ont., CAN, 54:40
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Sarah Goff, USA, 1:00.17; 2 Helle Frederiksen, DEN, 1:00.23; 3. Kaitlin Donner, USA, 1:00.31; 4. Alicia Kaye, USA, 1:00.44; 5. Paula Findlay, Edmonton, CAN, 1:00.51
Industry leading bicycle company Cervelo Cycles has extended its sponsorship deal through 2016 with Kyle Jones, the number one ranked ITU Triathlete in North America.
Kyle Jones has risen to the top as a world-class triathlete. Since his partnership with Cervelo in 2012, Kyle is coming off of his best year yet, finishing the year with a World Cup Title in Edmonton, being crowned as Canadian National Champion, completing the London 2012 Olympics as the top-finishing Canadian, and a 6th Place finish at the ITU World Championship Grand Final in Auckland to end the year. “We are excited to be supporting Kyle long-term. He is a great athlete and a great ambassador!” Lesley Loughlin, Marketing Manager, Cervelo.
In 2013, Kyle plans to continue carrying over the momentum from 2012 in closing the gap to the current Olympic Medalists. He has a long-term training and competition plan leading up to the Pan American games in Toronto in 2015, and the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 where he looks to become a podium contender.
“I am very excited to be entering into a long-term partnership with Cervelo. It gives me great confidence to know I have access to the fastest and best engineered bikes on the planet and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to ride these bikes for years to come.”
A long but rewarding season has come to an end! This past weekend I was in Auckland, New Zealand for the World Championship Grand Final. After 5 weeks of training in the Florida sun I was greeted by some familiar west coast weather down in kiwi land. In the days leading up to the race we had a mix of everything including a full day of sun on Saturday for the women’s race. But when Sunday arrived the skies opened up and the rain came down, adding yet another element to an already challenging and technically demanding course.
The swim started fast and was aggressive as usual. After one lap I was just off of where I needed to be in the group. After diving in for the second lap I advanced my position and was well placed exiting the water. On the bike we had a large group that broke apart as we climbed the first of three hills. After 1 lap there were about 12 guys left with Jonathan Brownlee and Richard Varga still up the road. Around the halfway point of the bike we caught Brownlee and Varga and rode together for a couple of laps. This bike course is without a doubt the toughest on the circuit but I felt strong and maintained good position within the group. Kris Gemmell broke away in the late stages of the bike to get a lead coming into transition.
Starting the run my legs were a bit tight but I was able to work my way into it. I was running in 8-9th place for the first couple of laps. I came around in the second half of the run and was able to get into a good rhythm. With about 1k to go I was able to pull away from Richard Murray and was gaining on the guys in front of me. I started a long kick from about 500m to go passing Ivan Rana and Dmitry Polyanskiy. I chased hard to get Gregor Buchholz in the final stretch but came up just short crossing the line in 6th place, my best finish ever in the World Triathlon Series.
I’m very happy to finish off the season like this. In the last 4 months I won my first World Cup, my first Canadian title and competed in my first Olympic Games. To cap it all off with this 6th place, the best result of my career so far, feels amazing. I owe a lot to my family and sponsors for all their support and of course to my coach, Joel Filliol, for everything he does. Looking forward to carrying this momentum into 2013!
Photo courtesy of Mark Bates – 321photos.ca
This past weekend I was in Cancun for my final tune-up race before the ITU Grand Final in Auckland. We trained through this race so I expected to be carrying a bit of fatigue but was still hoping I’d be fresh enough to contend for the win. I had a great swim, exiting the water in 3rd and putting myself in great position heading out onto the bike. There was a long string of athletes that ended up forming one large group. There were a few accelerations but after the 3 lap bike course it was one massive group coming off the bike together. I exited transition a bit farther back than I would have liked, but even once I got going I felt like I was stuck in one gear. I just didn’t have that “snap” in my legs. I fluctuated among the top 10 for most of the run and was able to finish strong in 7th. I’m now back in Clermont for another week of training with Jarrod Shoemaker and Coach Joel before we leave for New Zealand. With a bit more recovery over the next 2 weeks I expect to freshen up and be ready to go in Auckland.
All photos courtesy of Arnold Lim, ITU
Less than two weeks to go!
Training has gone very well the last couple of weeks here in Les Angles, France. The weather has been fantastic and I’ve settled into the mountain lifestyle quite easily. I can’t believe the Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow night! It would be great to be there in person but with Simon as flag bearer the sport of triathlon will be very well represented and I’ll definitely be glued to the tv screen!
I have a little over a week left here in Les Angles and then I’m heading over to London on August 4th. For photos, updates, and other media items please check out my Athlete Facebook Page. This page will be updated regularly in my lead up to race day on August 7th.