Whitfield grins and bears flag
By DAVE FULLER -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- Kingston native Simon Whitfield was scheduled to carry the Canadian flag -- and with it hopes for a better result in 2004 -- into Olympic Stadium this morning as the 2000 Sydney Games drew to a close.
Whitfield, who captured gold in the men's triathlon on Day 2 of the Games -- a feat which stood unmatched by a Canadian until Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor scored a second gold medal in men's doubles tennis 11 days later, was elected by his 309 teammates to be the flagbearer at the closing ceremony.
"I was very thrilled," Whitfield said. "I was told the night before and I was quite nervous. I tried to occupy myself with packing. To be picked by my teammates ... is quite an honour.
"It's something I'll always remember beyond just my own accomplishments."
Whitfield, 25, ran a stunning race two Saturdays ago, over-taking runner-up Stepan Vukovic of Germany in the closing 10-kilometre run to win the men's triathlon by a mere 131/2 seconds.
The former miler who was born in Kingston but calls Victoria home, was 28th after the 1.5-kilometre swim and 24th after the 40-kilometre bike event.
Though given an outside chance at winning a medal, the 5-foot-10, 154-pound dynamo annihilated the field in the closing 10 kilometre run, covering the distance in 1:48:24.02
"I didn't think I could (catch Vukovic)," said Whitfield, who lists his two sports heroes as Wayne Gretzky and Sir Edmund Hillary.
"I just wanted it so bad. You gotta want it. You gotta want it."
Unfortunately, too many of his teammates were not as lucky.