Edmonton Triathlon Academy
Edmonton has hosted a number of world-class events, including several ITU World Triathlon Cups at Hawrelak Park where three Edmonton area athletes – Paula Findlay, Paul Tichelaar and Carol Montgomery – got their start. All three went on to represent Canada at the Olympics. Given this pedigree, it makes sense that Edmonton would create a highperformance local training centre – the Edmonton Triathlon Academy ( eta) – with a primary focus on coaching and developing local younger athletes to their potential. The legacy dollars from hosting itu events funded the building of the centre in 2010 and, by 2013, it was recognized by Triathlon Canada as a regional training centre.
There are currently 15 local-area youth and junior athletes, 10 U23 athletes and six age group seniors. Many athletes are selected based on their swim, bike and run potential as per Triathlon Canada’s Rising Stars Program. Athletes have access to top-notch facilities such as the Kinsmen Sport Centre, and plans are currently underway to build North America’s first indoor high performance triathlon training centre –the Coronation Community Recreation Centre. The facility will include a world-class, international-standard 220 m velodrome, a running track and a connection to the 50 m Peter Hemingway Pool.
Athletes also have access to international coaching expertise with head coach Kevin Clark (a former elite triathlete who competed internationally from 1999-2005), Raeleen Hunter (a former cis track champion) and Stefan Schreiber (a former long distance triathlete). Clark, who has played a key role in eta’s development and is the senior development coach for Alberta’s Training Centre, brings a richness of coaching experience that has taken his athletes to numerous world championships and qualification for the 2008 Olympic Games. “The challenge to grow a program from scratch really motivated me to work with the eta,” explains Clark. “Canadians are amazing athletes to work with and it’s very rewarding to help them grow and succeed at a provincial, national and international level.”
In just a few short years, the eta has already begun to deliver on its vision of fostering a winning environment and an opportunity to succeed. For instance, Clark and two Academy athletes, Jessie Lilly and Evangeline Maunder, were chosen to represent Team Alberta at the 2013 Canada Summer Games and the team took home four medals – the most the province has ever won at the games. Another Academy athlete, Jason Jama, has made two U23 duathlon world teams while Kris Loshack the World Cup standard times.
But it’s not just for young up-and-coming athletes. The eta also has an age group program which includes many of the parents and grandparents of the younger Academy athletes. “Triathlon is a unique sport that appeals to generational participation and we are happy to be able to provide age groupers the opportunity to train and receive coaching alongside the younger athletes,” explains Bernie Poitras, communications and marketing manager for the itu World Triathlon Grand Final Edmonton 2014. In addition to its focus on athlete development, the eta continues to play a strong role in community leadership through its event management stream that oversees the itu Grand Final World Triathlon Championship taking place Aug. 26 through Sept. 1, 2014. It has also partnered with TransCanada Corp. to fund projects involving local youth clubs and organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
With its strong vision, high-performing developing athletes and community support, one can’t help but wonder whether it’s just a matter of time before the eta produces Canada’s next up-and-comer on the international triathlon scene. Either way, the Academy is well positioned to put Edmonton back on the world stage leading up to the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.