|Back to Home||Feature Article - July 26, 2012|
Another chance to raise the flagby Jeff Green
Frontenac County and Sharbot Lake have another chance for reflected glory this week, when tri-athlete Simon Whitfield carries the flag into opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London at the head of the Canadian team.
It might not be apparent to the billion plus people who watch the ceremonies, but Simon Whitfield got his start in the triathlon in Sharbot Lake.
In between 1987 and 1992, he participated in the Kids of Steel triathlons that were offered as a part of the Sharbot Lake Triathlon, events that were organized by Joan and Rudy Hollywood and friends.
While he was an enthusiastic tri-athlete, Simon Whitfield was not the fastest in Sharbot Lake in those early years. In 1990 he finished 7th in his age group, but by 1992 he was the top 15 to 16-year-old at the event.
In 1996, at the age of 21, he returned to race in the adult race, and he won in a time of 1:35.12, which was a fast time, but it was 43 seconds slower than the meet's record time, which was set by Rob Campbell in 1992.
Four years later, Whitfield was the surprise winner of the inaugural Olympic Triathlon in Sydney, Australia. That victory, and the fact that he mentioned Sharbot Lake and the Kids of Steel in interviews after winning the race, were motivation enough for the Hollywood family and Central Frontenac Township to mount a plaque in his honour on a piece of granite that is now located at the Sharbot Lake beach, the start and finish line for the Sharbot Lake Triathlon.
Whitfield has subsequently competed in two other Olympiads, finishing 11th in 2004 in Athens, and cementing his place in Canadian sports history with a dramatic silver medal winning performance in Beijing in 2008. Now participating in his fourth Olympic games, still an elite Olympic level tri-athlete at the age of 37, Simon Whitfield was a popular choice as flag bearer for the Canadian team in London.
As for his medal chances, they might seem slim since he is currently ranked 33rd in the world, but in this year’s World Cup rankings he was the 13th ranked athlete. He has the best record of any Olympic Tri-athlete. Bevan Docherty, of New Zealand, is the only other Olympic Tri-athlete to have won more than one medal (silver in 2004 and bronze in 2008)