I am rarely lost for words, but when I first read this article and watched the video – I was speechless.
The truth has been stretched so thin in this article, it is transparent. This issue isn’t a new one. It was first brought to the attention of the triathlon community by Austin, who wrote this blog post. It obviously hit a nerve, as many people made comments and shared their views on the matter, including me.
I twitted the link to the article and the video this afternoon, commenting that I thought reporters do fact checks before writing articles. Then again, I am not a reporter (or a writer for that matter), so what do I know… Admittedly, it was a smart ass comment and I had no intention of writing this blog post. However, my twitter account and my facebook accounts are linked to one another (oh, the joys of social media!) and someone made a comment on facebook not understanding what the issue was. It got me thinking.
On the surface, to the innocent bystander who isn’t immersed in the triathlon community, and/or even to some Age group triathletes, Buddy is just another athlete who is struggling to make it, trying to be the best that he can be and qualify to the 2010 Olympic Games in London. The reality is – Buddy will NOT be going to the Olympic games in 2012. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and pretend for a second that he has the ability to become an Olympic level athlete, it will not happen for London. No matter how you look at it, twist and turn it, it is simply not a possibility.
The reason for that is pretty simple. If you are familiar with the way the ITU points system works, then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you aren’t, here is the link to the ITU guidelines. A few different files and not exactly a light and quick read, but its all there for your reading pleasure.
In a nutshell, what Buddy is referring to as world cup races are in fact continental cup races. I guess you can consider those as a ‘stepping stone’ to the world cup races and the world cup races as the level before the world championship series… Triathlon Canada has a criteria set up for athletes wishing to race at the world cup level. They need to swim faster than 18:30 minutes for 1500m and run faster than 32:40 minutes for 10km (on a certified course). It seems like Buddy is a good swimmer, I will give him that. However, he is no where near running a 10km that fast (and looking at the video in the link above, I can see why too), therefore he has not fulfilled the criteria for racing at the world cup level.
As for his comments about how most triathletes don’t come from a swimming background… well, I am currently working with an athlete who swam 1500m in 16:19 minutes as a junior. If that’s not a swimmers background, I am not sure what is. Obviously, the likes of Andy Potts, hayley peirsol, hunter kemper and Victoria, BC’s very own Andrew McCartney (aka AMac) come to mind… Except they can run fast too. Buddy’s ~36 min 10km (not off the bike) simple doesn’t cut it.
Now, to one of the best parts (drum roll, please): 10th in the world… HA. He was 10th at the 2007 Ixtapa, MEX aquathlon race. Out of 13 athletes. The results are here, if you are curious to see them. I happen to know that the aquathlon race was about 10 minutes after the Elite mens race finished. The 4 other Canadians who raced the aquathlon race, just for the hell of it, also raced the Elite race. Buddy didn’t – he only raced the aquathlon… and still got beaten by 3 of those Canadian athletes. Draw your own conclusions.
And it goes on… apparently Buddy doesn’t have the time for marketing, etc. This file says otherwise. It looks like a professional marketing outline to me?! Then there is this letter… where he fails to mention that he has qualified for the age group national team, not elite – there is a huge difference between the two! It is a classic case of history repeating itself, as Buddy was pretty certain he was going to qualify for the 2008 Olympic games too.
The issue of funding in triathlon is a sensitive one. I know several triathletes who are significantly faster than Buddy, actually do race at the world cup level and receive absolutely no funding what so ever. I also work with athletes who are sort of in the same boat as Buddy, racing at the continental cup level. The difference is – they would never dream of pretending to be something that they are not! They are a bunch of hard working athletes, who are passionate about the sport and have integrity and a sense of reality. They make sacrifices daily to achieve their goals, and I am proud to be their coach (but that is sort of besides the point).
I am an optimist and I want to see the best in people, but I am finding it really hard to do in this case. I was really hoping Buddy has realized, from the response of his peers (other athletes and many people who are a part of the triathlon community in Canada), that he has made a mistake making false claims and bending the truth. Unfortunately, it seemed that he didn’t. I find it pretty sad and disrespectful.