What a scene, Triathlon Canada on full display at the Save On Foods arena, the flag planted so many years ago surrounded by the infrastructure our wonderful sport deserves, all set to flourish.
One Leaf, Three Sports, No Limits.
The rebirth of a sports organization that has been through it all, done the hard yards, and landed on both feet, ready to leap off the pontoon and into the next set of challenges, head first, driven and directed. It was quite a sight to behold with young athletes I knew coming up now established as the leaders and veterans of Triathlon Canada.
The next generation here now.
As Matt Sharpe said so well, "we walk the path those before us paved with every bit of focus and determination that they showed, we are ready, we are here to see our dreams come true". A young man eyes set on expressing his gifts, with a sense of humility and gratitude aligned with his immense talent, and stature, settled into his role as a leader - by example.
It was a pleasure seeing some of the old crew there, Carolyn Murray and Brent McMahon to name a few. Their success on the world stage as Olympians and community leaders speaks volumes about the nature of triathlon, a dedication to excellence in sport paired with a deep sense of giving back, well beyond the sport, as active participants in community initiatives, coaching and mentoring, they share their wealth of knowledge and in doing so reinforce why we as a society continue to invest in people, in sport, as they become leaders and role models for future generations. Beyond the current and old school athletes it was reassuring to see so many quality individuals engaged in the growth of the sport.
Starting with Kim Van Bruggen and her exceptional vision and calm cool and collected approach, along with her dedicated and highly effective staff. Kim inherited an organization in transition struggling to move beyond the narratives of past.. entanglements, an organization which had done the best job it could with the resources and experience it had available. Kim has charted a progressive path forward with new organizational structure, increased accountability and a focused vision for the future.
With the hiring of Eugene Liang as the High Performance Director Triathlon Canada assured that the level of expectations and commitment to athletes as more then just commodities, as future community leaders and role models, with sport as their vehicle, would be fulfilled. Eugene is a very focused individual, one imagines him to be a chess grand master with his intense work ethic and details orientated approach. Eugene came through the swimming system, he knows performance sport at the highest level, and yet, he is has an open door with a values driven commitment to always listening and learning. The triathlon talent in Canada is in good hands with Eugene, along with his right hand man, and one of my favourite characters, the statistician Alan Carlsson. No discussion on high performance sport is complete without hearing from Alan, his views from far out in the field, informed by endless research and thorough dissection Alan brings a unique and always honest (frank) perspective. Alan is a secret, now not so secret, asset to Triathlon Canada, supporting both the current generation and "the rising stars". With Jono Hall as Triathlon Canada's National Head Coach the expertise, passion and commitment sets TriCan up for world class results now and in the future. Jono has an enormous base of experience to draw on having seen high performance sport from every angle. Working with Triathlon Australia, USA Triathlon and now Triathlon Canada Jono has put in the hours and hours upon hours of intense in the trenches work needed to coach Canada's triathlon talent and express themselves in sport at the highest level.
Twenty years on from my first day in Victoria, living around the corner from Crystal Pool and introducing Triathlon to the head of PacSport Roger Skillings, who asked Brendan Brazier, Bruce Davison and myself where we planned to house our horses, and did we need permits for our pistols.. to a National Head Office in the Save On Foods arena, supported not only by the City of Victoria but the legacy fund from the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and the Institute of Sport.
We are seeing the fruits of the tireless, roll up your sleeves and do the work required commitment organizational leaders, sport visionaries and volunteers (and more volunteers) put in to make it all come together.
There was a cast of characters missing today who lay the foundation for Triathlon in Victoria, Barrie Shepley, Lance Watson, Paul Regensburg, Peter Reid, Lori Bowden to name just a few, and there are so many. Hats off to these individuals, their outstanding commitment to our wonderful sport paved the path to the Save On Foods arena.
Congratulations Triathlon Canada, Onwards and Upwards.