“Old Wolf” Simon Whitfield Refuses To Quit

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Whitfield blogs that despite winning Olympic gold and silver, there are ‘some doubts’ about his abilities going forward.

So confident was triathlete Simon Whitfield heading into the Beijing Olympics that he campaigned for the Canadian Triathlon Union to institute a controversial plan to have teammate Colin Jenkins serve as his domestique in the bike leg.

It created hard feelings among a couple of Canadians trying to qualify for Beijing. But the plan ultimately paid off with an unexpected silver medal for the then-33-year-old Victoria resident, eight years after his surprise gold medal when the grueling swim-bike-run sport made its Olympic debut in Sydney.

Now, after going two years without a World Cup win and with two young daughters creating a need to balance priorities, the self-described “old wolf” of triathlon concedes he doesn’t have the “same swagger I used to have.

“My wife would be the first to tell you that,” he said Thursday on a call from London, site of Sunday’s International Triathlon Union world championship series race on the 2012 Olympics course. “My smirk, she calls it, certainly the smile that indicates I was ready.”

Whitfield opened this season with a 30th-place finish in a WCS race in Madrid, then did not finish his second race in Kitzbühel, Austria, because of illness. Last month, at an ITU World Cup event in Edmonton, he was sixth, two spots behind Oakville, Ont., native Kyle Jones, the first time he had been beaten by another Canadian in an elite-level triathlon in a decade.

Whitfield concedes he’s struggled with his legendary belief in himself, one expressed on his frequently entertaining blog by the subhead “the relentless pursuit of.”

“I have, for the first time in my career, had some doubts,” said Whitfield, who will be 37 at the London Olympics.

Read more: Vancouver Sun

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