Paula Findlay has tasted both success and defeat. The native of Edmonton, AB has dominated and been humbled by the grueling sport of triathlon.
The 23-year-old is back this season and looking ahead to the start of the World Triathlon Series after a turbulent 2012 that knocked her off her perch as best in the world.
Findlay has had a good start so far in 2013 finishing at the top of the podium in her first Olympic distance race winning the ITU Pan American Cup in a time of 1:57:50.9 on March 16 in Sarasota, Florida.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” said Findlay. “It was a not a huge race in the big picture, but it feels so good to win again. I’ve been dreaming of winning again, and being the one to raise the finish banner. I was at such an ultra-low that I honestly didn’t know if it would ever happen again. Ultimately I want to win much bigger races, but this is another small stepping stone in my long rebuild.”
The rebuild started at the end of the 2012 season. A debilitating hip injury robbed Findlay of being able to compete throughout the year until the London Olympic Games. The lack of preparation and an undiagnosed anemia problem led to her finishing dead last and compiling a time of 02:12:09 – the worst time of her career by 3.5 minutes.
The 2012 season was a stark contrast from 2011 when Findlay captured three consecutive races to figuratively stand on top of the world as the No. 1 ranked triathlete. Findlay and Simon Whitfield (Victoria, BC) were later given an early nomination to the Olympic Team based on their qualifying standards.
A split from former coach Patrick Kelly and a new training regime with a fresh group of top athletes under the guidance of new coach Joel Filiol seems to have reenergized her.
“The girls I used to train with were amazing and Patrick Kelly did so much for me,” said Findlay. “But things are completely different now. I’m surrounded with very professional athletes and a culture of excellence where every decision that is made is to improve performance. That is what Joel has created.”
Going through the toughest time of her career has allowed Findlay to gain a new perspective on her career and helped her grow as an athlete.
“I feel I am a more mature athlete now,” said Findlay. “Accountable for what I am doing. I’m training more and better than I ever have before, but I am doing it very carefully and I feel this has done a lot for me. I still have a really long way to go though.”
Findlay gets a new lease on her career when she hits the start line for the World Triathlon Series race in San Diego, April 19-20.
– George Fadel