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Simon Whitfield pursues medal with relentless preparation

Simon Whitfield talks about his training for his fourth Olympic games, and the competition he'll face in London

As Simon Whitfield prepares for his fourth Olympic performance, there’s one thing he’s keenly aware of. Nothing stays the same. And it’s an awareness that has shaped how Whitfield has prepared for the London games.

Looking back, Whitfield says the level of competition is so high that any weakness or misstep becomes amplified. He says in the past, for example, you could get away with coming out of the water in 27th position. Now you just can’t do that. You have to be in the top 15.

Going into London, Whitfield knew he had to focus on his running. His coach Jon Brown is an Olympic marathoner who ran for Great Britain. Brown missed out on a podium twice. He finished fourth in Sydney in 2000 and in Athens in 2004.

Brown’s running experience is an important part of Whitfield’s preparations. But Whitfield is leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit to be absolutely and completely prepared. Close to the start of the London Games, Whitfield traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, staying at McMaster University, in order to train with Olympic marathoners Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis. He pushed himself doing some of the same workouts as the marathoners. Whitfield says spending time with the marathoners allowed him to calibrate his running. He was also able to share ideas and find confidence in what he was doing.

Before heading to London, Whitfield did his final preparation race in Toronto at the Triathlon Festival. Triathlon Magazine’s Chris Lepik had a chance to catch up with Whitfield and talk to him about his training and what he’s been doing with the marathoners in Hamilton.

Going into London, Whitfield says the deserved favourites are Great Britain’s Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Spain’s Javier Gomez. He says on any given day, these guys are the likeliest winners. But, Whitfield says, when the race starts, anything can happen. He notes that in Sydney he was not the favourite, but he found a way to win. He says the only way he can accomplish something similar is to relentlessly prepare. And that’s what he’s been doing. “You prepare to take advantage of the opportunity,” says Whitfield.

Whitfield says that his result in London will take care of itself. It will be the culmination of the focus and attention he’s put into his training. The day after the race will simply be a time to share with his family in a park in London. If he has a medal with him, that would be cool, especially for his young daughters. If he doesn’t, it will not matter.

Be sure to watch the women’s race triathlon competition on Saturday, August 4 and the men’s race on August 7th.