Open Letter to Simon Whitfield

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Motivation

Dear Mr. Whitfield,

Currently, you are probably wrapping up your training in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, U.K where you’re aiming for another podium-worthy performance as well as getting to be the official flag-bearer for Team Canada.  What an honor!  I can’t think of any single more deserving individual.  Congratulations!  You’ve earned it, bud.

On a side note, this weekend we’ll be competing together in your last warm-up event prior to the games at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  Well, we’re not competing together so much as you’ll inevitably be light years ahead of me to the point where I’d need my own flux capacitor just to see you at the finish.  But that’s cool, you’re a world class athlete and I’m, well, me I guess.  Whatever.

I’m not one to gush or go all gaga over celebrity athletes or movie stars and such, but you’re a bit different in that you inspire me significantly and so I felt the sudden impulse to express that.  And maybe not necessarily in the way you might think either.  Sure you’re a high functioning athlete of Titan proportions but it’s more than that.  It’s the way you act as an ambassador to the sport; it’s the way you credit yourself as a family man first above that of a professional triathlete; and this all resonates with me particularly now that I am also in the position where I have a family to be responsible for and accountable to beyond my own goals and aspirations.  That, to me, is the biggest challenge in participating in triathlon now.  It’s not about the mileage anymore, or the speed drills, or the laps in the pool…it’s about still being able to play with my step-daughter afterwards and have time to spend doing both the important and little things with my girlfriend throughout the week.  I want them both to be proud of me and support me, not resent the time I spend away from them pursuing my own interests.  I’ve learned that it’s a fine (and often difficult) line to walk. No easy task to be sure.  These are the same things, from everything I’ve read and understood about you, that are similarly important to you.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

I also respect the way you stood up to Lance Armstrong and defended the Olympic distance style of racing.  Many of us age groupers who are proud of our accomplishments, modest as they may be, felt a bit slighted by someone we might have thought would have otherwise “got it”.  Really Lance?  Isn’t that where your roots once were?  I realize that you’re super human now beyond that of mortal man, but seriously?  ‘A shampoo, blow dry and a 10k run’?  So thank you Simon for putting that comment in its proper perspective and becoming the voice for those of us aspiring to anything less than Lance’s demigod-like standards, and doing it in a way that was both respectful and gentlemanly.  THAT  I respect.  You, sir, rock.

I hope I speak for others here as well and not just for myself when I say that you inspire me to see that my own goals are possible and achievable and that they matter despite how Lance might view them.  Most importantly, they don’t have to come at the expense of what’s important to me…my family.  You’ve shown me you don’t have to be this ‘over the top’ A-type of personality to do well in the sport.  Sure, it may help when you’re an elite athlete competing on a world stage, but it’s not paramount.  You can be humble and still be successful.  I think sometimes people assume triathletes are pompous and/or full of themselves and, sure, many of them probably are, but there are others who are ‘normal’ and more down-to-earth and you’re most certainly among them, Simon.  That’s what I aspire to be going forward in this sport…humble.  Humble enough to be respectful and encouraging of others and to have fun with it while still competitively striving to accomplish my own set goals.

So let it be known now, that when you’re throwing that last “haymaker” as you put it come August 7th, that myself, my family, as well as a great majority of Canadians I suspect will be rooting for you and, regardless of how it all turns out in the end, we will be equally thrilled and proud of your efforts.  So swing for that fence, bud, knowing you’re already inspiring the rest of us to swing for our own.


  1. mom says:

    Very well written, Terry. So on Sunday, give Simon a bit smooch from me 🙂

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