Triathlon Canada has used its discretionary power to name Simon Whitfield and Paula Findlay to the 2012 Olympic team. Neither Whitfield nor Findlay met the national criteria for selection, but the national body believes both athletes have medal potential.
Whitfield, a gold medallist in 2000 and silver medallist in 2008, hasn’t finished on the podium for any international events this year. His best result in 2011 was fourth at a race in Japan.
Findlay was ranked No. 1 in the world until suffering a hip injury in July.
With the early selections, Triathlon Canada seems to be sending the message that it wants its top athletes peaking for London, rather than chasing standards.
“Paula emerged into one of the top-ranked triathletes in the world prior to getting injured this season,” said Alan Trivett, executive director, Triathlon Canada in a release. “We believe early selection will allow her to focus on maintaining her health while properly preparing to compete at her best in London without chasing standards over the next seven months.
“Simon is a proven performer and another medal-potential athlete in our system who we want to have focusing solely on peaking in London. Our journey is simple — to land on the podium in London. We believe these two athletes will help us achieve this goal.”
Findlay said she still intends to prove her fitness before the Games but was obviously pleased with the decision. “This has come very quick,” she said, “but I have worked really hard for this. I am thrilled and excited.”
Whitfield, a 36-year-old veteran, will continue to work with his training partners Brent McMahon and Kyle Jones to help them qualify for the team as well. “I have great camaraderie with these guys,” Whitfield said. “Having three athletes on the start line will give Canada a better chance to achieving our goal in 2012.”
Canadian triathletes have until the end of May 2012 to qualify for the London Games. A maximum of three men and three women can be named to the team.