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Happy to be back: Triathlon Canada names coach who left program after the Team Canada 2012 Olympic struggles to High Performance Director position

Despite his criticism 10 years ago, two-time Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield congratulates Triathlon Canada on new appointment

Photo by: Triathlon Canada

Patrick Kelly, the senior coach of Triathlon Canada’s National Training Centre between 2003 and 2012 who was criticized by Simon Whitfield at the 2012 Olympics, is the new High Performance Director for Triathlon Canada. Numerous media outlets reported on Whitfield’s criticism of officials at Triathlon Canada and Own The Podium during the Games in 2012, and Kelly left the Canadian program later that year.

Kelly was Olympic favourite Paula Findlay’s coach through her series of five World Triathlon Series wins in 2010 and 2011. Findlay injured her hip in 2011, though, and struggled with her recovery. In June, 2012, she stopped working with Kelly and, after her tough day at the London Games, Whitfield lashed out at those he felt should be held responsible for Findlay’s challenges.

In 2014 Kelly sued Whitfield for his tweets and comments at the 2012 Games, but it would appear that the rift between the two is now over – today Whitfield posted a message on Twitter congratulating Triathlon Canada for the announcement – “Patrick Kelly brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for Sport,” the two-time Olympic medalist said.

After the 2012 Olympics Kelly became the head coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute (2012 to 2017), then served as the men’s team coach with the Japan Triathlon Union from 2017 to 2021.

“It’s been two years since I’ve had the pleasure of setting foot in Canada, so I’m thrilled to not only finally be home to reconnect with friends and family, but to begin this exciting new journey with so many of Canada’s athletes and coaches who I have known over the years,” Kelly said in a press release from Triathlon Canada.

“I have been fortunate in my previous work with triathlon in Canada to establish positive relationships with athletes and coaches throughout the country. I look forward to further developing these relationships and building on the strong high-performance program that is currently in place in an effort to strengthen the sport of triathlon in the years to come.”

Kelly has been a high-performance coach for almost four decades, beginning in 1984 with an elite team called Tri Kinetics that included Commonwealth Games champion and two-time Olympian Carol Montgomery. He was the Canadian national team coach from 1988 to 1991, then moved to Japan to coach cycling and triathlon.

“Patrick is a highly-motivated individual who will be a critical piece to our overall high-performance leadership team that will be counted on to deliver a coach-driven, athlete-focused program in Canada that is fair, accountable, and dependable with the ultimate goal of building a medal winning program in 2024 and beyond,” said Lucy Smith, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Triathlon Canada. “We are thrilled to have Patrick back home guiding this new generation of Canadian triathletes and coaches who are driven to succeed.”

Kelly plans on “spending his early days on the job meeting with athletes, coaches and provincial sport leaders across the country.”

“Regardless of the program I am leading, or country that I’m working for, I truly believe success begins with developing relationships,” Kelly said. “I look forward to bringing the coaches and athletes together, at both the national and provincial level, to work towards a common good of mutual support while striving for top international performances. Success for me will be to see all of us in the Canadian system working collaboratively while utilising leading-edge sport science and technology in pursuit of seeing the Canadian flag raised above the podium at international events including Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games which will serve as critical benchmarks towards achieving our performance goals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”