Simon Whitfield races toward family life at finish line of Olympic career
When Simon Whitfield was 21 years old, he was in way over his head. He was at the national triathlon championships in Corner Brook, Nfld., and it was just him and an older guy, and they were both running flat out, and it was the young man who cracked. Whitfield slowed to a jog, then walked, and eventually saw a kiddie pool in a front yard and plunked himself down in it, singlet and all. The owner of the house came out. There was a moment of tension.
“I thought I was in trouble,” says Whitfield, now 37, smiling all the way up to his deep blue eyes. “And he said, “You need a beer, son?’ And I said, ‘Sounds good.’ So I drank this beer in this turtle pool.”
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Simon Whitfield is sitting on the patio of the Detour Café in Dundas, Ont., and as always, he appears to have been boiled away to the essentials. He is still in his red-and-white bike outfit, and he orders the quinoa salad, a cappuccino, the squash soup, some water. It is, in a way, one of many last meals.
“We’re giving this the absolute best crack we can,” he says, between bites. “It’s a pretty monumental challenge, to be completely honest. In 2008 it didn’t feel — I was ranked second in the world, and we had this great plan, and to be honest, I didn’t think about it all that much. But it didn’t seem that monumental.”