Simon Whitfield will do whatever it takes to be another flag-bearer success story.
Following in the footsteps of Adam van Koeverden and Clara Hughes, the 37-year-old triathlete is as focused as ever on having a strong performance in London. After winning a silver medal in Beijing and gold in the sport's debut, 12 years ago in Sydney, Whitfield is aiming to reach the podium once again. So it seems rather appropriate that he will compete in his final tune-up race in classic Canadian style.
"The last bit has just been training and loving training," Whitfield said at a press conference for the Toronto Triathlon Festival. "I've spent a huge amount more time with [Olympic teammate] Paula Findlay in the last two weeks than I have the last three years. The camaraderie there is great fun."
Whitfield believes the timing is perfect for a preparation race in Toronto, with London's course awaiting. After running along a scenic path this weekend that includes Lake Ontario as a backdrop, the Victoria native will see more tourist attractions during his race at the Olympics.
It's a route Whitfield is familiar with — having competed twice on it already at World Championship series events — with most of the course taking place in Hyde Park, as well as a section that goes right by Buckingham Palace.
"I told my daughters that I get to wave at the Queen," Whitfield said. "And they just thought that was the coolest thing in the world."
Heading into London, Whitfield will be just one of three athletes to have competed in all previous Olympic triathlons in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. But despite being the first in the sport to be named a country's flag-bearer, Whitfield is simply excited to be leading such a hard-working group into the Opening Ceremony.
"I represent a group of people who sacrifice so much and put so much commitment into getting [to the Games]," Whitfield said. "I feel very honoured to be able to represent them but I feel very much a part of that team... For the Opening Ceremony it's about being an Olympian, being a Canadian and waving the flag."