Triathlon Magazine Canada - - MARKETPLACE - BY KEVIN MACKIN­NON

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

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