Paula Findlay didn’t waste any time making her presence known on the international triathlon scene.
In 2010 at Hyde Park in London U.K. she became the first Canadian to win a World Championship Series triathlon event. She hasn’t looked back since. Now with a collection of international medals, Findlay will stand on that very same start line in London to make her Olympic debut as a 23 year old.
The occasion doesn’t mark the result of long-term planning for the Edmonton native, who says she was more so eyeing 2016 as her Olympic year to shine.
But she’ll take it.
“Things progressed more than anticipated,” she said. “I still feel relatively young compared to a lot of the girls I race against.”
Quick progression is one way to look at it.
Findlay’s dedicated focus, talent and mature attitude, however, shows more than just the results of hard training. It shows a young Canadian athlete who has clearly put down the necessary framework to find Olympic success.
“Paula’s body and her brain are hard-wired for triathlon,” said Findlay’s roommate and Olympic swimmer Julia Wilkinson. “She is an inspiration. I don’t ever see Paula slip up, and more importantly, she loves it.”
Findlay’s coach Patrick Kelly agrees.
“Paula is an extreme personality,” said the senior development coach at the National Training Centre in Victoria. “She goes to bed at the right time, she eats incredibly well and does all the stretching and the yoga. She does everything right and is a great role model for the younger athletes. They see what it takes to be a champion. To stay in this sport at this level, you have to have everything sorted out.”
Findlay entered the racing scene as a swimmer, competing since the age of 10. It wasn’t long after trying a few running races in high school when she made the jump to triathlon, earning a spot on the national junior squad in 2007 and finished third at the Under-23 World Championships in 2009.
Now it’s a total package, and if Findlay is within striking distance after the bike, Kelley is not shy about his confidence in Findlay’s capabilities.
“If Paula’s healthy, she’s going to do well,” he said.
With the Olympic Games, comes Olympic-sized pressure. For Findlay, though, keeping things in perspective is all part of the plan.
“(The Olympics) will be fun, but at the same time I want to be ready to perform,” she said. “I try not to think too much about the race itself because every race pans out differently. I just try to remind myself that I’m prepared, I’ve done the work and I deserve to be there. Once the gun goes, the nerves go away and that’s when the fun starts.”
For Findlay, and every Canadian supporting her, the fun starts at 9 a.m. local time at London’s Hyde Park on August 4.