Simon Whitfield Retires From International Sports Competition to take on a Leadership Role in Sports Entertainment
VICTORIA—After nearly two decades of travelling the world representing Canada, the nation’s most decorated triathlete, Simon Whitfield, announced Wednesday that he will leave competitive sport.
“Today marks the end of my career as a professional athlete; it’s been an incredible journey and an amazing chapter in my life. I grew up dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympic Games, though I never imagined I would have the honour of wearing the maple leaf four times, winning two Olympic medals, and bearing the Flag,” says Whitfield, who carried the flag into the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
“I grew up with triathlon. I was first introduced to the sport when competing in the Kids of Steel races organized by Joan and Rudy Hollywood in 1986. Triathlon provided wonderful memories, friendships and experiences that I will hold close forever.”
Whitfield shares, “it is time to shift gears. I have spent years with athletes of all ages – sharing – motivating – challenging.”
Simon Whitfield is a world-class athlete and leader. His international achievements include being the first triathlete to win Olympic Gold during the sports inaugural year in 2000, Olympic silver in 2008, gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, 12 Canadian championships and 14 world cup victories. As an entrepreneur, his portfolio of business ventures ranges from mobile bike mechanic Velofix, to Champion Systems quality custom clothing, to online training system Kicker Endurance. He is also part of the team at the Endurance Games, CIBC’s Team Next and Gold Medal Plates. And keeping true to his commitment to youth and sport, he does national charity work with KidSport, Power2Be and Goodlife Fitness Kids Foundation.
Brian Levine of Envision Sports and Entertainment will continue to represent Whitfield for all personal endorsements.
For more information please contact Chris Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Simon is an outstanding athlete and a great Canadian. He has represented our country with distinction, not only in his contributions to his sport but also in his broader contributions to the support of Canada’s Olympic athletes, and the betterment of his community through his many charitable works.”
– Duncan Sinclair, head of Deloitte Western Canada
“Few Canadian athletes in any sport have had a larger impact on the psyche of the Canadian population. Just over thirteen years ago, on a September Saturday night, Canadians were sitting in their living rooms watching the second day of the Sydney Olympic Games. Triathlon was a relatively new sport and it was making its Olympic debut in Sydney. While CBC had intended on only capturing a few minutes of the two-hour swim-bike-run race, they changed their plans as a charismatic Simon Whitfield started to run through the competition during the 10k portion of the race. Simon had never won a major international race before he sprinted past German Stefan Vukovic to win the sport’s first Olympic Gold medal in front of the Sydney Opera House Steps. Simon’s gold medal win was watched by a record number of Canadians that Saturday evening as his gold medal was one of just three that Canada won in 2000.
Over the last thirteen years, Simon has secured podium performances and major wins on every continent, including at the Commonwealth Games. He amazed Canadians once again in 2008 as he sprinted in Beijing to secure a silver medal at the Olympic Games. Simon is one of only five men in the world to have raced at all four Olympic Games (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012). Simon’s impact on the sport in Canada is unmatched, with Kids of Steel Triathlons selling out and even having a waiting list in the years after his Olympic victory. Simon has been relentless in his passion for improving his own performance as well as that of his teammates over his illustrious career. There is no athlete currently racing in the Canada who has not improved because of their interaction, and the experience that Simon has shared with them.
This past season was not the same on the International Triathlon Circuit with Simon Whitfield not racing. Simon is one of the sport’s most popular triathletes and is as beloved around the world as he is in Canada. I had the chance to watch Simon race his very first ever Kids of Steel Triathlon in Sharbot Lake, Ontario over twenty five years ago, and was doing the live Olympic TV commentary in London when he crashed in the last triathlon of his career. In my thirty plus years of being involved in the sport as a coach, commentator and race director, I can unconditionally say that Canada will never see another Simon Whitfield again. The first ever Olympic Champion, a ten time National Champion, the winningest World Cup Athlete in Canadian History. Known around the country and the world by just his first name, I am honoured to have spent so many years with this future Hall of Fame Athlete.
Knowing Simon as well as I do, his official retirement this week, simply means that he is now putting his WORLD CLASS PASSION into his family and other sporting and business opportunities that inspire him. Thanks for giving Canadians so many wonderful memories Simon. You have been a true national treasurer and I am honoured to consider you a close friend.”
– Barrie Shepley, Olympic coach/Team leader Sydney 2000, ITU Commentator
“It’s impossible for me to speak about Simon Whitfield without mentioning fun! Everybody wants to play with Simon! Why? Because even when we know how hard his ‘play’ might be… he makes it look like fun!
As Simon retires Canada might be down a fierce competitor in the field, but I have no doubt that the person he has become will remain an asset to Canada, and to the Canadian sport system from the podium right down to the playground. Since his Olympic victory in 2000, I’ve known Simon to always be generous with his time and knowledge. It’s obvious –Simon likes to bring people along with him. He has been the kind of athlete who, even though it would increase his own challenge, has mentored and encouraged talented athletes competing against him. He has always wanted to build his sport and his community. Constantly giving back—to schools, triathletes, and all athletes—Simon communicates with ease, sharing the values of curiosity, passion and determination. Simon wants everyone around him to do his or her best, but equally as important to him is that we have fun trying.
It’s easy to admire Simon. He has had a fantastic career as a triathlete and he had fun doing it. I have no doubts his next career will be just as fantastic, and just as fun filled. Cheers my friend! Congratulations.”
– Marnie McBean O.C., Three Time Olympic Champion, Speaker, Mentor, Author
“Through knowing and working with Simon over the last several years I had the chance to not only be amazed by his athletic accomplishments, but to also learn a lot from his high performance attitude. I found that his ‘relentless pursuit of’ was so much more than just a cute catch phrase; it was a way of living and winning. I know that Simon will carry this attitude to whatever he’s doing next and continue to be extremely successful.”
– Paulo Sousa, Coach and Long Time High Performance Advisor
“Simon Whitfield has throughout his career been a standard bearer for his sport, his family and most importantly, his country. As the first Olympic triathlon champion he will forever be an iconic figure to countless Canadians. His exploits on the international stage have inspired a generation of young people to live the Olympic life and to do so with dignity, grace and a sense of fair play.
Simon Whitfield is the consummate competitor but beyond that, he is an advocate for all that is good about sport. His name is synonymous with athletic greatness in our country. It has been an inspiration to know him, follow his journey and to call him a friend.
His legacy is without question, immense.”
– Scott Russell, CBC Network Sports
“What always impressed me with Simon was the way he prepared, as well as how he was constantly searching for innovation in his pursuit of excellence.
He brings that same passion and drive for change to the business world where he has played a key role in the growth of our Company while constantly bringing ideas and connections to our business.”
– Chris Guillemet, Co-founder Velofix Holdings Ltd.
I would like to offer you a story of how I came to meet Simon Whitfield as being illustrative of the generous and community-oriented individual that he is. In 2008 I was tasked with the job of growing the Thrifty Foods Kids Run from 600 to1000 kids. It was September and I called the Victoria Olympic team office to enquire whether any of the Beijing Olympians were speaking at the local schools. I was told the only one doing any speaking, they were aware of, was Silver Medalist Simon Whitfield. So I called him up and asked if it was okay if I horned in on his speaking engagements to talk about the Kid’s Run, and even though we had never previously met, without a moment’s hesitation Simon said absolutely! We had a great time doing the tour. Simon is magic with little kids, telling stories that make fun of himself and getting kids to run around in his racing singlet and all the while giving the inspirational message of having a dream and working hard to achieve it. It always amazed me that he would hand out his gold and silver medals to a gym full of elementary school kids to be passed around like a piece of gym equipment and never let the travels of the medals take his focus off the kids. This all took place only a month after the Olympics when everyone would have understood if Simon took some down time after the many months of training for the Olympics. A time when he was inundated with offers of speaking engagements paying thousands of dollars, but he made time to call local schools and offered to speak for free. In the 5 years since then Simon has been a huge supporter of KidSport, speaking at golf tournaments, attending the Thrifty Foods Kid’s Run making radio ads, donating his personal effects to raise funds and personally donating significant sums of his own money in support of KIdSport, including the creation of a mural at Saanich Commonwealth Pool. I now consider Simon to be a friend and someone I greatly respect and admire.
– Steve Turner, Co-Chair KidSport Greater Victoria
“Simon Whitfield is one of Canada’s great treasures, both as an athlete and as a community and business leader. He inspires you to always look at the possibilities before you, and in so doing, to set new heights of excellence. His passion for the youth of Canada and the hope that they may all have a chance to represent our country, in some way, on a bigger stage, always exudes from him. Kids love Simon! From a personal standpoint the most exciting sporting event I ever witnessed, and I have seen many, was Simon’s run-from-behind Silver Medal win at the Beijing Olympics. It was super-human and changed me, and Canada, forever. I am a big SW fan!”
– Stephen Leckie, Gold Medal Plates Founder
“Simon is the ultimate KidSport Victoria Ambassador. He personally has supported the organization by leveraging his corporate supporters and speaking opportunities to benefit KidSport. His selfless contributions have helped fund hundreds of children from low-income families in Greater Victoria into a season of sport. He is a shining example to all about how to inspire children to be the best they can be using a sport experience to help them build confidence and gain life skills. We are proud to be affiliated with such an outstanding individual and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
– Patti Hunter, KidSport Victoria
“There are two emotional points in the career of a high performance athlete. The first is when you realize that you could go all the way to the top of your sport. The second is when you retire from world-class competition. My thoughts and feelings are with Simon at this transition point in his life.
Simon’s career was inspiring, but more inspiring to me was the way he approached training & competition. Simon manages to balance playfulness & inclusion with an undeniable drive to succeed. Gold loses its lustre, but friendships last forever. Simon’s greatest legacy will not be his wins, but rather, the lives he touched during his competitive career.”
– Adam Kreek, Olympic Gold Medalist Rowing, Inspirational Speaker
“I have known Simon for 20 years. We have trained and raced together, shared hotel rooms and drunk one too many drinks at race after-parties. His accomplishments within the sport of triathlon are well known and legendary: our sport’s first male Olympic Gold Medalist, a silver medal added to the mantle in Beijing and countless big victories all over the World.
Neri and I often talk about and will never forget, his amazing sprint down Macquarie Street to take Gold at the Sydney Olympics. I still get shivers whenever I recall it. The same shivers I experienced when I saw him lead Canada and carry his nation’s flag into the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment though, is being a Dad to two beautiful little girls.
Simon has contributed so much as an athlete, ambassador and role model: an inspiration to many and I’m sure that will never change. He has certainly been an inspiration to me.
When I think about our early days in the sport, training together, it feels like just yesterday.
I remember his relentless pursuit for excellence as an athlete, and will really miss seeing Simon Whitfield in full flight on the run, in my opinion the greatest spectacle in the sport.
Neri and I wish our friend the best in his retirement from the sport of Triathlon. But I know he is not retiring from life and he will continue to contribute in a big way wherever his attention and focus turns.”
– Craig Alexander, Hawaii Ironman Record Holder, Three time Hawaii Ironman Champion
“Congratulations Simon on your inspiring athletic career. Not only have you achieved the highest accolade in sport, you have motivated so many youth to discover their potential and endless abilities. Thanks for all that you do in sport and in the community. We are so proud to have you as part of the Power To Be family.”
– Tim Cormode, Founder and Executive Director Power To Be
“We can only aspire that our children will exhibit the same character, work ethic and intestinal fortitude that Simon has exemplified.
Simon has inspired us all to step out of our comfort zones and commit to fulfilling our dreams. He has shown us that our dreams are within reach if we truly dig our heels in, have a superior work ethic, and a “never quit” attitude.
I would like to congratulate Simon on an amazing sporting career. Saying that… I know he will crush these accomplishments as a Father, and in his future business ventures.
CHOP WOOD. CARRY WATER.”
– Dallas Eakins, Head Coach of the Edmonton Oilers
“It has been a pleasure knowing Simon and seeing him develop from a young Olympic champion into an iconic Canadian. The best qualities Simon has are his thoroughness to deliver the very best out of himself, and his ability to challenge and create innovation in himself and others. Simon has been instrumental in the development of triathlon, taking it from relative obscurity to its current thriving and rapidly growing state. Very few living athletes—in any sport—can lay claim to this, and I think Simon’s full contribution to Canadian sport can’t be fully appreciated at this time.”
– Jon Brown, Three time Olympian, Personal Coach
“I watched Simon come on to the triathlon scene as an energetic young boy; then watched him make his dreams come true through passion, persistence, work ethic and talent. I am proud of how he always asked me to support all his teammates and young athletes. He truly cares about his sport and looks at the big picture. Simon was a great ambassador for Canada, triathlon and the youth. He has great things ahead as he enters the next stage of his career.”
– Graham Fraser, Creator of the Subaru Triathlon Series, Creator of the Ironman Brand in North America, Creator of Centurion Cycling
“We met Simon prior to the Sydney2000 Olympics while I was teaching at an inner city school in Victoria. He had come to the school to volunteer on his off training days. The principal assigned him to my class where he quickly became a mentor to a couple of the more challenging students and they gravitated to him, especially during recess breaks on the playground for a spontaneous game of basketball. Simon’s outgoing and accepting personality made him a great asset to the school.
Simon was new to Victoria and as we were a family with three boys, so we welcomed him to our farm for home cooked meals and we got to know him better. Later in the year he was looking for some accommodation that would help remove him from the downtown distractions, and where he could concentrate on his triathlon training. We had an empty bedroom so he moved in for a while, and from then on we became known as the ‘Farm Team’.
After winning the Gold medal in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Simon visited our school for an assembly and he continued to be a fantastic role model. The children enthusiastically flocked after him when he took all 300 students on an impromptu run around the playing fields. He graciously stayed to visit my class and talked with the students about his dedication and passion for the sport, as well as the importance of reading, and mentioned one particular book he had read that made an impact on him.
Simon continued to visit schools after his next medal at the Beijing Olympics. He was in high demand as a speaker and a motivator and became involved in the KidSport group. His sense of humour and his outgoing nature endear him to students and adults alike. He had a biography published, which he launched at our school, and he attended our new middle school library dedication assembly (by riding in on his bicycle with a group of training buddies!).
We have followed Simon’s career over the years, watching him in person as he participated in triathlons in Victoria and Edmonton, and watching all of his events on television. We have enjoyed meeting his parents and family to gain further perspective on what makes Simon tick. Simon is a true leader of sports in his influence on all the people he touches, from the regular weekend runner, or swimmer or biker, to the elite athletes who are following in his footsteps, as well as to the next generation of triathletes.
Best wishes Simon on your retirement.”
– ‘The Farm Team’ Anne and Bob Warren
“I was fortunate to work with Simon in the 2012 Olympic buildup. We became friends during this period, training and living together. Since then Simon has taken a keen interest in my development and has been a great mentor. He and I share a strong love for competing and I’ve already seen him transfer his competitive nature from athletics to the business realm.”
– Andrew York, Up-and-Coming Canadian Triathlete
“Simon is the best philanthropist I know. I once took noodles from his cupboard and he found out but didn’t make me give them back.”
– Brendan Brazier, Founder and Formulator, Vega Sport Nutrition
“Thirteen years ago I remember sitting on the couch with my Dad watching the very first Olympic triathlon in Sydney. Simon had us on the edge of our seats as the race progressed and he got closer and closer to the front. In the final hundred metres we were up on our feet yelling at the television, and watching in awe as he took the lead and became the first-ever Olympic triathlon champion. As a young aspiring Olympian and an avid triathlete it was this moment that inspired me to follow my dream.
Four years later that dream got a serious boost as I was given the opportunity to train with Simon in the lead up to the Athens Olympics in 2004. What was supposed to be a two-week training stint turned into a full summer of training alongside the Olympic champ, and it wasn’t long after that I moved to Victoria and began training with Simon full time. From 2005 to 2012 we spent countless hours together. He was a great mentor, friend, and training mate: someone I looked up to and learned so much from. To this day there are many things I acquired from Simon that I continue to implement in my training regime. Most importantly, he taught me to surround myself with likeminded individuals, to create a culture of excellence and protect it, to never be complacent, and to continue to be a student of the sport.
Simon will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest triathletes and Canadian Olympians in history. I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of his successful journey in sport and I wish him all the best in his retirement.
– Kyle Jones, 2012 Olympian, Triathlon, Number One Ranked Canadian Triathlete
“Simon has been integral to elevating the sport of triathlon to the high level of competition we see today. He will forever remain a part of ITU history as a four-time Olympian, two-time medalist, and the first man to win Olympic triathlon gold in Sydney. We will miss seeing him line up in ITU races, but look forward to his continuing to be a part of the triathlon family.”
– Marisol Casado, ITU President and IOC member
“Not only was Simon an outstanding athlete whose accomplishments speak for themselves, he has been extremely important to the growth of triathlon in Canada as well as worldwide. Simon has actively sought opportunities to work with athletes of all ages, sharing his expertise and knowledge with them. We hope Simon will continue to impact the sport and would welcome the opportunity to work with him in the future.”
– Loreen Barnett, ITU Secretary General
“I can’t think of any greater challenge than trying to put into words what Simon Whitfield means to me and to triathlon as a whole. There is no way I can ever fully express either the impact he has had on me as an athlete and a person, or the contributions he has made to the sport.
As a competitor, Simon raised the bar with his devastating run speed and his relentless pursuit of sporting excellence. As an ambassador and a role model for triathlon, he raised the bar even higher with his willingness to sharing his story, and his passion to drive forward numerous causes—most notably the opportunity for kids to be involved in sport and active play. As a mentor, he taught me about what it means to be a professional, both on and off the racecourse, and both in and outside of training. His work ethic was contagious, and it was his day-after-day-after-day commitment that really showed all of us how Olympic medals are won. As a friend, he has been the source of countless adventures, epic training days, many good meals (including his very special Eggo Magic Supremo), and lots and lots of laughs.
Through Simon, I met my wife, discovered my talents, and found my way to a real career in triathlon. The most I can say is, “thank you!” which is woefully inadequate but also most appropriate. So, thank you, Simon; thank you for everything. You mean more to me than I can ever say. I wish you nothing but the very best in everything that lies ahead. I’m sure it will be at least as exciting as all of those sprint finishes…”
– Jordan Rapp, Ironman Champion
“Simon’s contribution to sport in Canada is far greater than his outstanding competitive record highlighted by his two Olympic medals. He has been the consistent driving force of high performance in triathlon in Canada, leading by example, challenging everyone around him to be better in every way: to really ‘walk the talk’. He has raised the level of our expectations of what it takes, in the ‘relentless pursuit’ of excellence.
The extraordinary length of Simon’s career at the top of triathlon is a testament to his understanding of doing the basics extremely well, his ability to embrace the details and implement innovation, as well as understanding the need to continually evolve as an athlete as the sport moves forward.
Behind the scenes he has been a true builder, from the sporting community in Victoria B.C. to supporting and mentoring many young athletes with big dreams. He has shown them the path forward, and what Canadians can achieve with full commitment to the process.
Simon’s influence on my own coaching career is immeasurable, from the fantastic team we built together in Victoria, to the process of blood, sweat and tears from Athens leading to his silver medal in Beijing. It was an irreplaceable experience. What I learned from him profoundly shaped my own beliefs about elite sport and the coaching process, and has formed the foundation for my coaching career. It has been a privilege to be involved with his journey thus far in sport, and to know him as a friend. I look forward to his next chapter.”
– Joel Filliol, Personal Coach Beijing Olympics, Longtime High Performance Advisor
“Simon has played a significant role in not only putting our sport on the international radar screen, but ensuring triathlon’s credibility within the Canadian sport system over the last decade. He has created a culture of excellence, expectation and belief for Canadian athletes in triathlon that they too can get on the podium and win. Simon was a ferocious competitor who was determined to win every time he hit the start line. He has done a lot of heavy lifting for our sport and has encouraged Canadian athletes they too can achieve their dreams of winning international and Olympic medals. His impact on the sport, and the future of Canadian athletes, is significant and his page in the history books may never be challenged. We will never forget the impact he has had on our sport’s evolution, and wish him the very best with his new career opportunity.”
– Alan Trivett, chief executive officer, Triathlon Canada
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Simon since 2009. Simon is one of the most creative, energetic and eclectic individuals I know. For this reason, I have no doubt he’ll feel right at home working with the tremendous team Tyl has built at Fantan Group. I wish Simon all the best as he embarks on this new and exciting venture and look forward to our continued work together.”
– Brian Levine, President Envision Sports & Entertainment
“I truly respect Simon as an Athlete and as a Person! He’s a true example that you don’t have to be selfish and hated in order to be the best in your chosen sport!
It was an honour to share the podium with him in Beijing, in fact it was always easier getting beaten by Simon over other athletes as we both had a huge amount of respect for one other, as well as families to feed!
Simon was a master at his craft. Not only did he have a lightning fast run that looked effortless, but also the amazing ability to get into peoples heads and break them down, even before they raced.”
– Bevan Docherty, Two Time Olympic Medalist and World Champion, Triathlon
“It’s very sad to see Simon retire. He provided us with so many highs in the world of sports that made me proud to be a Canadian sports fan. I admire the way he competed and the way he dealt with adversity. He is a towering figure and I am proud to call him a friend.”
– Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo
“It is hard to put into words the enormous contribution that Simon Whitfield has made to the sport of triathlon, and to Canada. From the moment he crossed the finish line in Sydney with the first ever triathlon gold medal for Canada, he has inspired youth and adults alike. I certainly will never forget his silver medal performance in Beijing, the guts and tenacity he showed both in preparation for those games, and on the day.
Simon has always been on the cutting edge of technology, in the sport world, as an early adopter of training concepts and nutritional innovations that are now mainstream.
Simon has always been a huge supporter of kids and physical activity. His contagious love of movement has inspired many a child in the neighborhood and in the larger community.
Simon inspires me in the way he trains and the way he races, but he mostly inspires me by his love of sport and movement.”
– Silken Laumann, Olympian, Inspirational Speaker, Author
“Simon is such a gifted and inspiring athlete, who we have all watched with great pride over the years. He will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for sport in Canada. We feel very fortunate to be working closely with Simon as part of our CIBC Team Next program, so that the next generation of aspiring athletes in this country will have the benefit of his vast experience as a world class athlete and mentor as they look to fulfill their dreams of standing on the podium wearing the maple leaf.”
– Veni Iozzo, Senior Vice-President, Marketing and Strategy, CIBC