Triathlon Canada – Tri This. Really?

translated by Michel Moussette

This may surprise you, but Trimes derives no pleasure from badmouthing sports federations Our opinions are often simplistic in regards to the complexity of their problems.

Following the London Olympics, Triathlon Canada is in complete overhaul mode. The federation that oversees triathlon has finally appointed a new High Performance Director (Libby Burrell). Our objective is not to disavow Triathlon Canada, but rather to signify our disappointment with the new advertisement campaign and the general direction of their “Tri-This” Talent Identification and Recruitment program.

Tri This English from Triathlon Canada on Vimeo.


Tri-This. Want to become a triathlete!? “Want to make $200,000 in 1hr49min?”

We think there are a few problems with this approach :


At we hate the idea of attracting young athletes to triathlon by overemphasizing monetary gains. In the past, greed has often pushed youth to dope and get into sports for the wrong reasons.

It is as ridiculous as telling kids to apply to med school because becoming a doctor will make them rich. We think that your occupation should be a passion before anything else. Your job should be a vocation and should result from a certain altruism. But it seems the Federation had no better idea about how to sell its sport.


There is also a very misleading aspect to this advertisement. The 200 000$ prize was offered many years ago (not since 2010?) at Hy-Vee. This race is no longer on the ITU calendar since it is now part of the 5150 circuit. So there was not a single Triathlon Canada athlete at this race in 2012. Other little imprecision, the WTS races offer at the most the quarter of this sum to the winner. Hence the publicized prize money is incorrect.

Also this type of message develops a type of athlete who thinks they are owed everything, with limitless material resources and personnel at their service.

Lucrative amateur sport, a sophism …

Presenting triathlon as a lucrative amateur sport is simply hilarious. In Canada, very few make a living from the sport. Let’s say that the very best receive financial support (Own the Podium, CanFund) and can live comfortably during their career. But the others will have to find ways to rise to the top, and almost all will have to find new financial solutions once the spotlight is no longer on them.

So why is Triathlon Canada launching this program?

Simply because the Federation thinks there is no “post-Simon” succession in place. Because it wants to do what is already being done in other countries. There is this fantasy of finding the incredible runner who already swims well, or of finding the exceptional swimmer who could eventually run competitively. These athletes are rare. They exist in the USA simply because American athletes are pushed harder at a young age. And their achievements in sports can eventually help them to obtain very significant scholarships in prestigious universities (think of Sarah-Anne Brault). The Canadian basin is truly not as big because we have not managed to develop this culture of excellence in sports. Also, the best cross-country runners at the college level are often triathletes simply because they are the ones that train the most. So, are we looking to recruit young athletes that are already part of the sport? Just look at the results of Ellen Pennock or Amélie Kretz in cross-country racing.

Cycling talent is still under the radar

It is also unfortunate that we continue to ignore this discipline. The new race dynamics in WTS increasingly show that it is impossible to regularly achieve good results on the circuit without being a complete triathlete. And we believe cycling is not a sport that is automatically acquired, far from it. I do not think that athletes from the two other two disciplines scoff at triathletes as openly as cyclists do.

Perhaps Triathlon Canada’s role is precisely to ensure that the sport become more visible. As it happens, there is a relationship between the popularity of a sport and the success of a nation on the international and Olympic level. Just look at the presence of triathlon in the Canadian media. There is a paper magazine (Triathlon Magazine Canada) and one Web publication (that’s us!). Sometimes, even the athletes participating in WTS races are unaware of the presence on the web of their races!

Because we believe that it is just too easy to criticize, we will publish our own recommendations shortly.

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