This past weekend I was invited by Geordie McConnell of the Ottawa Triathlon Club to contribute to their annual coaching clinic. Each year Geordie invites a special guest to his clinic and I was honoured to attend and share my experiences. I had a great time interacting with the coaches and meeting many of the club’s members. A fantastic group of people to work with!
Lots of great photos captured here from the weekend.
By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press, September 12, 2013
Kyle Jones has long raced in the shadow of Canadian triathlon star Simon Whitfield.
It was a spot Jones didn’t mind occupying while he trained alongside the Olympic gold medallist and soaked up all he could about the sport.
But with Whitfield easing into semi-retirement — he has said there’s just a 10 per cent chance he’ll return to full-time racing — Jones said he’s more than ready to become the new face for his sport in Canada.
The 28-year-old Jones is considered Canada’s top hope for a medal in the elite races at this weekend’s 2013 PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final in London.
“It’s definitely something I looked forward to,” Jones said on shouldering the role as team leader. “I think the best way I can lead is just by example, and that starts with just training and preparation and showing up on the day and executing. Simon helped me over the years with advice and guidance and definitely I’m open to helping any of the young guys, sort of passing along the info and paying it forward.
“It’s definitely a role I look forward to being involved in more and more over the next three years leading into Rio (the 2016 Olympics).”
Jones rose up through the sport’s ranks behind Whitfield, the two spending four or five hours a day training together in Victoria over some six years.
“We did spend a lot of time together, but it is good to kind of have a change and my own direction,” Jones said. “A lot of times when we were training together, (Whitfield) being the more dominant one, he sort of led the way and I was happy to follow. But you come to the point where you need to start making decisions for yourself and I’ve quite enjoyed that change.”
Jones won the national junior title in 2003, and raced to fourth-place finishes at the Pan American Games in 2007 and 2011.
Then he won the Canadian championships last year and went into the London Olympics as Canada’s top-ranked male. A bike crash took Whitfield out of the mix at the Olympics, and Jones was Canada’s top finisher in 25th.
Jones, an Oakville, Ont., native, wasn’t pleased with the result on the Olympic course that he’ll cover on again Sunday, saying a poor swim left him out of the hunt.
“Definitely looking forward to going back there and getting a little bit of redemption,” Jones said.
This passing-of-the-torch season hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Jones, however. Coming off one of his best winters of training, he had bike crashes in two early races in Auckland, N.Z. — where he said he had been poised for a podium performance — and San Diego.
He also left Victoria and moved back closer to home in Milton, Ont.
“There was kind of a shift of what was happening in Victoria, the group sort of wasn’t what it was, with Simon retiring, and a bunch of other athletes going in different directions,” Jones said. “I pretty much had to do what was best for me, and put myself in a situation where I can be successful.”
“It was definitely a tough start to the season. Would have been nice to have had a few more results on the World Series, but if I was going to have things happen like they did, then this year is the year for sure.”
Jones hopes to improve on his sixth-place finish at the World Series Grand Final last year. The favourites are Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee and Javier Gomez of Spain, who’ve dominated the World Triathlon Series podium this season.
Alistair Brownlee won the Olympic triathlon last summer on much the same course, that starts with a 1.5-kilometre swim in Hyde Park before a 40-kilometre bike ride that circles Buckingham Palace, capped by a 10-kilometre run that finishes in Hyde Park.
Kirsten Sweetland of Nanaimo, B.C., withdrew from Saturday’s elite women’s race due to illness.
As for the next three years heading into the Rio Olympics, Jones hopes to reach the podium at next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
“Definitely being in Toronto, you can’t get much more of a hometown race than that,” Jones said. “So that’s one that I’ll be definitely gunning for a medal in and hopefully gold.”
Jones embraces leadership role with Canadian triathlon team
Oakville Beaver – By Herb Garbutt
When Simon Whitfield retired following the London Olympics, Kyle Jones assumed the mantle as Canada’s top male triathlete. It’s no easy task taking the place of a Canadian sports icon.
Whitfield had been the face of triathlon since winning the sport’s first Olympic gold medal in Sydney in 2000, not just in Canada — where he won 10 straight national titles — but around the world. It was inevitable, though, that eventually Whitfield would retire and the Canadian team would need a new leader.
Jones had been groomed for the role for years. He had moved to Victoria to train alongside Whitfield, learning all he could from the four-time Olympian. Along the way, the Oakville native began assembling a solid career of his own. A junior national champion in 2003, Canadian sprint champion and a top-10 finish at the world under-23 championships in 2005. He narrowly missed the podium at the 2007 Pan Am Games, finishing fourth, a result he repeated four years later in 2011. That same year, he nearly ended Whitfield’s run of national titles after being edged in a sprint to the finish.
Jones and Whitfield raced together in London and after a bike crash took Whitfield out of the race, Jones was Canada’s top finisher in 25th. So went the passing of the torch, which Jones gladly accepts.
“It’s a new era and I’m happy to be the leader of that. We have a younger team and it’s exciting to be a part of it. I’ll help any way I can and pass on what I learned from Simon.”
Jones knows, though, the best way to carry on what Whitfield started and to be an example for his teammates is to win races.
“He set the bar high for us,” the 28-year-old said. “I’m not in it for the track suits. I want to win medals. This is my job.”
That made the start to Jones’ season all the more frustrating. Coming off a sixth-place finish at last year’s world championships, Jones was feeling very good about his off-season training. Then he had his first two races derailed by bike crashes in Auckland, New Zealand and San Diego.
It took time to recover from those mishaps, both mentally and physically.
“Crashing at 40 or 50 kilometres an hour takes its toll,” he said. “I’ve got some nice scars now. It took some time to heal and get my body back in form.”
There were also mental scars as Jones said it took time to once again feel comfortable riding at speed in a pack. As a result, his results were mixed — an eighth place at a Grand Prix in France and 27th at a World Triathlon Series race in Madrid.
But with a second-place finish at the International Triathlon Union World Cup race in Edmonton at the end of June — finishing just seven seconds behind France’s Gregory Rouault — Jones showed he is up to the task of leading the Canadian squad. The race also served as the Canadian championships, allowing Jones to claim his second straight national title.
It was a continuation of a good run in Edmonton. Jones finished fourth two years ago and then won last year’s race, his first World Cup victory. And though he had hoped to defend both titles, Jones saw a lot of positives.
“I knew I was in good form,” he said, “it just hadn’t been reflected consistently in my results. Any time you win a national championship it’s important and I’m proud of that. Hopefully, this is a springboard for the rest of the season.”
Racing on Canadian soil has agreed with Jones over the years, and now as he enters a new stage in his career, he’s returning a little closer to his roots. After several years living in Victoria, Jones moved to Milton at the beginning of the year. In addition to bringing Jones and his wife Kelly closer to their families, he said the area has much to offer in terms of training — new pools for swimming, open water swims and running at Kelso Conservation Area and good roads for biking — all a few minutes from his home.
And just as he said he’s always had a positive experience feeding off the energy of the crowd in Edmonton, Jones is hoping for a similar boost for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
“It’s not every day you have a major games at home. It’s something I’m looking forward to and it will be great to see as the momentum builds toward that.”
For now, Jones will look to build off the momentum of his performance in Edmonton at World Triathlon Series race in Kitzbuhel, Austria on Saturday, followed by another race in Hamburg, Germany two weeks later.
After crashing in the first two events of the 2013 World Triathlon Series I took some time to recover and then got in a nice 3 week training block at my new home in Ontario. Feeling fit and ready to resume racing I flew over to Europe last week to compete with my French club in the first Grand Prix race of the year in Dunkerque. These GP events offer a great opportunity to mix it up in a very fast and competitive field. The depth at these races is very similar to ITU racing so it was a good chance for me to get in a proper race ahead of the Madrid WTS this weekend. It felt good to finally put on my race flats and have a go at it. Overall the race went well. I was a bit hesitant on the bike with the crashes still fresh in my mind but overall was happy with the race. I ran well and crossed the line in 8th place. Our team finished 3rd overall which was a nice bonus!
Here’s a link to the results: French Grand Prix Dunkerque
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