On “The Relentless Pursuit Of …”
Kyle Jones (a fellow Canadian national team member who has trained with Whitfield since 2004): Simon changed the name of his blog recently to “The Relentless Pursuit Of.” I think that summarizes him as an athlete and how he approaches the sport and always has approached the sport. There’s that saying “no stone unturned.” He embodies that. I’ve seen him with the coaches and our high-performance directors over the years. He’s always asking, “What can we do better?” I’ve seen him kind of struggle when he’s forced to interact with people who don’t have the same commitment—with people who don’t have that same commitment to excellence. That relentless attitude, I think sometimes it overwhelms people. He’ll do anything to win, and he’s always searching for more ways. And it wears on some people. But he’s found a way to surround himself with people who share that same commitment. People who don’t, over time, disappear.
Rapp: I got to see him every single day, and for me the takeaway was he never bagged a session. He never sort of phoned it in. It’s not to say he didn’t have bad workouts. Everyone has bad workouts, and there were the demands of life, of having a kid, and that’s when people would have fights—everyone was tired. If you looked at, over a year, or years, the commitment that he demonstrated, it’s not all that surprising that he won another medal.
Whitfield: That’s what I admire in [Chris “Macca”] McCormack. McCormack just doesn’t give a fuck what people think about him. He’s about “the pursuit of.” And it’s not a popularity contest to him. He just is like, “This is how I feel. This is who I am. If you don’t like it, move aside.” And for me it’s sort of the same thing.
Whitfield: I understood outcome and process pretty early on. Like when I was a kid I understood it. My parents reinforced it without me even really knowing it. I was never asked if I won. I was always asked, did I give a great effort? And that really paid off because it taught me that everything was about the process and about the preparation I put in.
On Whitfield’s reputation as the absent-minded triathlete
Jones: Simon is a bit of a scatterbrain. He’s the guy—I shouldn’t say this, being as I’ve lost my passport recently—but he’ll put his passport through the wash three times. I don’t know if he can get another passport now. He’s under high security from the Canadian government. I’m the younger one by 10 years, but I guess I have better organizational skills. I kind of keep us on track while we’re traveling so we don’t miss any flights. Simon’s got an ADD personality of always moving on to the next thing. I try to keep him focused and on track.
Sprigings: It’s interesting because someone might laugh and say, “He’s so disorganized.” It’s interesting because he’s not. [There are] things that don’t directly apply to his goal, that don’t require his immediate attention, so he might forget his keys or wallet. But not once have I ever seen him forget a detail of a training session or a piece of equipment. He’s never late. He’s so on it.