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Who is Canada’s Next Great Triathlete?

Simon Whitfield and Grant Darby launch the "Tri This" recruitment drive.

The search is on to find Canada’s next great triathlete.

Triathlon Canada is leveraging the Olympic excitement and national pride to encourage gifted Canadian athletes to ‘Tri This’ – the national body’s Talent Identification and recruitment initiative designed to ensure Canada remains a major player on the international triathlon scene.

Backed by Canada’s most decorated triathlete, Simon Whitfield, and four-time Paratriathlon medallist, Grant Darby, the nation-wide talent identification and recruitment program was created to attract athletes to the sport with strong backgrounds in running and swimming who have the passion, will and desire to become a world-class triathlete.

“It typically takes nearly one decade to develop a youngster at the grassroots level into an elite triathlete. It is a long journey with many potential roadblocks,” said Whitfield, who helped Triathlon Canada launch the program in front of a gymnasium full of kids at Toronto’s Rene Gordon Elementary Health and Wellness Academy on Tuesday.

“It is our goal through ‘Tri This’ to nurture dedicated athletes who already have a strong head start in one or two of the three disciplines of our unique sport to increase the breadth and depth of our national program.”

The recruitment initiative focuses on scouting two distinct classes of athletes. The first group targets the mature athlete whose resume includes swimming or running competitively at the provincial, national or collegiate level that has the ability to be developed as a triathlete, and can compete in the sport at an elite level in the next one-to-two years.

Not losing sight of the importance of building a strong pool of up-and-coming talent, the second component of ‘Tri This’ aims to connect with younger, development-level swimmers and runners. In working with these athletes and their coaches at a younger age, Triathlon Canada will have the ability to expose them to the sport of triathlon, create a training program and competitive environment that will properly grow them into a world-class, Olympic and Paralympic-level triathletes. Pegged as the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic heroes, these athletes will begin racing competitively on Triathlon Canada’s Teck National Junior Series, and development level races.

“While extremely successful at international competition over the last three Olympic quadrennials, the sport of triathlon is still relatively new to most Canadians.  The more we expose people to the sport, the better the nation’s chances are at finding, fostering and developing Canada’s next Olympic medallists,” said Alan Trivett, chief executive officer, Triathlon Canada. ” Similar recruitment initiatives are already underway in other countries. Early indications of success include American Gwen Jorgensen who was recruited to triathlon from the NCAA two years ago, and competed at the 2012 Games in London this summer.

It is proof these recruitment initiatives work, and Canada cannot stand still if we want to remain a medal-contending country in the sport internationally.”

Over the next two years, Triathlon Canada will also roll out a recruitment and paratriathlon talent identification program designed to encourage more athletes with a disability to discover and develop in the sport of triathlon, which will makes its Paralympic debut in 2016.

“There is no doubt inclusion into the Paralympic program will be a boost in growing participation for paratriathlon across the country,” said Grant Darby, who won the Paratriathlon World Championships in 2004. “It is exciting that Triathlon Canada is committed to build on the culture of triathlon excellence rooted in Canada, while ensuring the nation’s paratriathletes are fully-prepared to charge for the Paralympic podium.

“If we truly want to be competitive and contend for medals in 2016, we need to be aggressive in our recruitment through programs like Tri This, and build depth in the program.”

Interested athletes are being asked to visit www.triathloncanada.com, and fill out Triathlon Canada’s ‘Tri This’ application form. A Triathlon Canada representative will immediately evaluate all applications. A phone interview will then be scheduled with highly regarded candidates. Potential candidates may be required to have an injury assessment with an approved medical professional.

If accepted into the program, the candidate’s final step in the process will be to meet with a group of Triathlon Canada’s high-performance staff to develop a long-term development strategy to maximize the athlete’s opportunity to achieve international excellence in the sport.

For complete information on ‘Tri This’, please visit www.triathloncanada.com/trithis.

Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com.