Canadian triathletes confident ahead of Rio selection
5 Olympic representatives to be announced June 9
Canadian triathletes like Amelie Kretz and Sarah-Anne Brault and Tyler Mislawchuk have to wait until June 9 to learn if they will be competing at the Rio Olympics.
In the interim, coach Jamie Turner praised the efforts of his athletes in their qualification attempts.
"I'm really happy with the progress we've made with Amelie and Sarah and also young Tyler," Turner told Guillaume Boucher of Radio-Canada. "Two or three years is a fairly short period of time to be coaching an athlete and I'm really happy with how Amelie and Sarah and Tyler present as we speak today," he said.
Turner was hired in 2013 by Triathlon Canada as a high-performance coach. He also coaches current world No. 1 Gwen Jorgensen of the United States.
However, Turner's contract was not renewed following an Own the Podium review in November 2015, leaving Kretz and several other Olympic hopefuls without a coach.
Canada finished the 2012 Olympics without a medal in triathlon. Adding to the poor results was the controversy surrounding accusations by Canada's flag bearer Simon Whitfield that team doctors mismanaged teammate Paula Findlay's hip injury.
Qualification for the upcoming Games has been similarly underwhelming. No Canadians met the standard set by the national organization for outright qualification during the period between May 2014 and the event in Yokohama on May 14-15.
"It was pretty apparent that significant cuts would occur to the contribution that [Own the Podium] made to Triathlon Canada, so no surprises to be honest," Turner said.
According to La Presse, Triathlon Canada's endowment was cut by 60 per cent, or $350,000, beginning April 1. Own the Podium's site currently lists Triathlon Canada's funding at $200,000, fourth-lowest among Olympic sports.
Fortunately for Kretz and Brault, they continued to train with Turner with financial support from Triathlon Quebec.
"When TriCan decided to let him go, Jamie said that he would continue coaching us until after this year or even longer if we wanted to," Kretz told CBCSports.ca on Thursday.
"It's really good for us not to have to change coaches right before the Olympics, to have that support no matter what."
Turner doesn't see a smaller contribution from Own the Podium as a major deterrent to his former athletes' ability to perform.
"Some countries have the luxury of superior funding and superior resources and some countries don't. I don't think that's what creates performance and what doesn't," said Turner.
"I think if we can focus on the fact that Triathlon Quebec has increased their support [of Kretz and Brault], they get their carding [funding from Sport Canada] and of course as athletes, their primary mechanism for reimbursement on their investment should be prize money. Both of these girls are capable of earning prize money every time they get on the start line."
Who's going to Rio?
Canada has earned three berths in the women's event and two in the men's event at the upcoming Summer Games according to Triathlon Canada. However, no Canadian triathlete met the various qualification standards during the two-year qualification period dating back to May 2014.
Kretz finished a career-best eighth at the final Olympic qualifying event in Yokohama, Japan. Turner is confident the 23-year-old from Blainville, Que. will thrive on the course at Rio, especially after training with some of the stronger international competitors.
"[Gwen] is pushing us on the run every day, and it's great to be surrounded by some of the best triathletes in the world and to learn from them every day," said Kretz.
"It is a competitive training environment but I think it's good. We're all friends, we're all here to help each other achieve our best performances."
Brault, originally from Quebec City, Que., is currently the highest-ranked Canadian in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) standings at No. 22.
"Sarah's been probably having a greater understanding of the processes, the little things that you do that when you put those things together you can achieve performance," said Turner. "I think in the past Sarah's capacity to aim for performance or aim for the Olympics was a bit of a guess, a bit of a wish whereas now it's a plan."
On the men's side, Mislawchuk ranks eighth in the ITU standings and finished 10th in two of his past three events. The Oak Bluff, Man. native is the presumptive favourite to be named to Rio.
The following Canadian triathletes are also in contention for Rio:
- Dominika Jamnicky (Guelph, Ont.)
- Kirsten Sweetland (Victoria, B.C.)
- Paula Findlay (Edmonton, Alta.)
- Kyle Jones (Hamilton, Ont.)
- Andrew Yorke (Caledon East, Ont.)
- Russell Pennock (Calgary, Alta.)
With files from Radio-Canada