SIRI LINDLEY’S CANADIAN CONNECTION
PAULA’S NEW COACH
IT WOULD BE hard to imagine there’s a Canadian triathlon fan who doesn’t cringe at the thought of Paula Findlay’s race at the 2012 Olympics. It was a tough finish, one that came despite an injury that must have been even harder to bear with the weight of a country’s expectations on her shoulders.
Paula Findlay is 1) too great an athlete and 2) too great a person to be held back by the challenges she endured in 2012. The Edmonton native is working her way back to the top of the triathlon world thanks, in part, to her new coach, Siri Lindley.
In the past I’ve described Lindley as about the nicest person you’ll ever meet. I won’t even try to go back on that now – she is about the most positive, kind and thoughtful person I know. Those are just a few of the attributes that make her a great coach, but are the ones that have made her the go-to coach for elite athletes who are trying to come back after challenges.
Lindley has completely turned Yvonne Van Vlerken’s career around over the last few years, helping the former Ironman world record holder back to the top of the podium, including her recent win at Challenge Roth. Mirinda Carfrae and Lindley split up for a year and it turned out to be the first and only time the Aussie didn’t finisher first or second in Kona. (Not that a third-place finish is anything to scoff at.) Since they’ve been back together Carfrae has won Kona two years in a row.
Lindley comes by all this honestly. She worked with super-coach Brett Sutton in the late ’90s and early 2000s, winning a world championship in 2001. She has managed to incorporate the hard work philosophy that was pounded into her by Sutton, but adds empathy to the mix. While Sutton is renowned for being incredibly tough, Lindley isn’t afraid to show some compassion.
“Brett provided me with so many of the training principles I follow,” Lindley says. “I think that if you add heart, empathy, communication and passion you can create an even better athlete. You deliver all the hard training, but you add the heart and soul to make them even better.”
Which is probably why Findlay has so many great things to say about the coach she’s been working with since May, 2014. And, while Lindley certainly has a competitive streak and wants her athletes to excel, when you talk to her about Findlay, it almost seems like performance is the last thing on the agenda.
“Paula is a tremendous athlete and a wonderful human being,” Lindley says. “My first goal was to get her to fall in love with the sport again. I had to help her realize she won’t be battling injuries for the rest of her career and to get her happy and healthy.”
Surprise of all surprises, the biggest challenge for Findlay has been to be patient as she comes back to racing. A niggling knee injury affected her preparation for the Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympic test event, but Lindley was confident that Findlay would be closer to her best form by the ITU Grand Final race in Chicago in September. The everpositive Lindley says Findlay is stronger, both mentally and physically, than ever before.
In the end, though, the results are only part of the equation. For Siri Lindley, all this is about figuring out life.
“It’s about what my athletes walk away with,” she says. “In the end, triathlon truly was the vehicle that helped me find myself. I care about what my athletes go through and want them to walk away from the sport with a lot of great experience that will enrich their lives in a special way.”
Paula Findlay is in some pretty awesome coaching hands right now and I can’t imagine a better fit.
Siri Lindley with Paula Findlay