Whitfield -- golden boy feeling very lonely
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
SYDNEY -- Simon Whitfield didn't even think about being only the lonely.
When Whitfield won his gold medal for Canada on Day 2 of these Olympic Games he didn't dream that he'd be waiting until the homestretch for a couple of tennis players, a wrestler, a paddler or whoever to join him in the Olympic dream world as a golden guy.
"I've been hoping all along that I have some company,'' he said. "It's taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but I'm sure, before this is over, we're going to have other gold medal winners.''
If we don't, does that mean Whitfield will be our flag bearer at the closing ceremonies by acclimation?
And wouldn't it be better to go home from these Games with the special status of being the one and the only? Wouldn't it mean more money, more glory and more fame?
"Some people have said that to me,'' said the winner of the first-ever men's Olympic triathlon.
"I really don't understand that sort of thinking. I think if there are a few of us who win gold then it's better for everyone.''
Whitfield refuses to head home early to capitalize on any gold rush.
"I've had some overtures along those lines but I'm telling everybody that I don't want to look back years from now and regret that I didn't stay here and make the most of my Olympic experience. Whatever there is going to be for me, it can wait until I get home.
"I'm having a great time. I've had a couple of very late nights,'' he confesses. "And I've watched a lot of events.''
He's been kicking around with the basketball team of late and spent time here yesterday with captain Steve Nash, saying he marvels at his leadership ability.
"I'm as caught up with the basketball team as everybody here and probably everybody back in Canada,'' he said of Jay Triano's team.
GLAD THAT HE DID
"But I didn't go to the Yugoslavia game. I had to go see the 10,000 metres. And boy am I glad I did,'' he said of one of the most magical long distance races in Olympic history, where Ethiopia's Haile Gebreselassie and Kenya's Paul Tergat sprinted to the finish and were separated by .01 of a second at the wire with Gebreselassie winning.
"I'll be there for the Canada-France playoff game,'' he said.
Whitfield says he's been asked to sit in on some meetings other athletes are having to discuss the Canadian condition here.
There's been a lot of talk with the athletes about what has to change with the Canadian sport system.
"I'm a bit ignorant of a lot of it so I've found it quite fascinating,'' said the athlete who was born a Canadian after his dad left Australia to take a position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and moved to Kingston, Ontario, where Simon was born.
Now listing Victoria as his hometown, he's spent much of the last few years training in Australia.
"They've just been casual meetings,'' he said. "Just a bunch of us sitting around the dining hall talking about how to make it better.
"Marnie McBean and Tanya Dubnicoff are two of the smartest people I've ever met in my life. Tanya doesn't think we should copy anybody else's system but create our own truly Canadian system. I like her thinking a lot.''