VICTORIA—After spending two decades of his life swimming, biking and running to achieve the Olympic dream that was instilled within him as a young child, Canada’s Kyle Jones has decided to officially retire from the sport of triathlon.
“It took me a long time to get to this point,” said Jones, who has not competed since the 2016 season, but continued to train moderately over the last two years so he could quickly get back to elite form if he decided to return to the start line. “In the back of my head, I didn’t know if my athletic career was over. I went back and forth nearly every day with the decision and needed to completely step away from the sport to see if I was done. As much as I miss the elite training environment, I look at my life now and I’m really happy. I’m a father of two young kids, I have an amazing wife and I’m now comfortable with saying it’s time to move on.”
The journey for the 33-year-old from Oakville, Ont., began by following his father’s footsteps, but not in the path that took his dad to two Olympic Games as a Canadian canoe coach. Jones instead followed his father’s passion for weekend triathlons. The younger Jones would play on the sidelines with his sister, watching his dad test his limits swimming, biking and running. For the next 20 years, the role of spectator flipped in the Jones household. It was Jones’ parents who now had a front row seat to watch their son’s steady climb to the top of the sport in Canada.
A strong junior athlete, Jones started racing nationally in 2002, and won the Canadian Junior Championship the following year. His victory sparked a move to Victoria in 2005 to train at the National Performance Centre alongside two-time Olympic medallist, Simon Whitfield. Over the next seven years Jones chased his dream around the world – a journey that saw him celebrate national titles, CAMTRI victories, World Cup medals, and earning a position on the Olympic start line in 2012.
“Looking back on things, I’m proud of the titles, but that Olympic experience in London is the highlight for me. The connection with my dad and the influence he had on me, that was my childhood dream. I dedicated my whole life to getting on that start line at the Olympics and I have to be very proud of that,” said Jones. “But I didn’t fulfill my potential there and that’s what fueled me to keep going.”
Carrying the torch from Whitfield as the new leader of the national team upon arriving home from the London Olympics, the next four years was a rollercoaster of emotions for the respected Canuck. A period where the medal-winning performances and appearances at PanAm Games on the Ontario roadways he grew up on along with competing at the Commonwealth Games were overshadowed by unfortunate crashes, injuries and ended in heartbreak after being left off the 2016 Canadian Olympic Team.
“I had a vision for what the end would look like and that was not it. I could feel my career coming to an end, and things kind of exploded and didn’t end the way I wanted them to,” said Jones. “That took me some time to deal with, but over the past couple of years I have now embraced things and have realized I’m a much happier person when I’m around this sport. It’s in my blood and I now want to help others experience the journey that has made me who I am.”
Spending more time with his young kids and wife is the priority, but Jones now also wants to have a positive influence on young Canadians who share his passion to swim, bike and run. As a result, he has partnered with Jeff Scull at Edge Triathlon in St. Catharines, Ont.
“I have been hesitant about entering into the coaching world, but I feel through all of my experiences – from training with Simon Whitfield to being in a centralized system to training as an independent athlete – I have so much knowledge to transfer to the next generation. When I talked to Jeff, I told him my passion would be working with kids and to help build up a small training centre in the area,” said Jones, who added the 2021 Canada Summer Games will be held in the Niagara region.
“There is so much untapped potential in this region which motivates me. The school system will be a great place to start looking for the next generation of Olympians. I’m so excited to introduce people to a sport that I absolutely love.”
Looking back on his career, it is clear what Coach Jones will tell his young athletes. It will be the same advice he tells his own kids on what it takes to be successful on and off the playing field.
“I want to encourage them to try a lot of activities and have fun doing it, but for me it all boils down to having a strong work ethic, dreaming big and spending your life chasing those dreams,” said Jones, who credits a solid support network starting with his family for the ability to achieve his performance goals.
“It starts with a strong work ethic, passion and perseverance. It is a long, emotional road and I’ve had some great learning experiences along with way. There are high moments you have to celebrate, but then reflect and set new goals. During the low moments you have to be patient and resilient. You can sit down and feel sorry for yourself, or find a way to get back on the horse. I was able to push through all of those moments, and it led to memories I will never forget.”
For more information on Kyle’s coaching endeavours please visit: www.kylejonestriathlon.com.
ABOUT TRIATHLON CANADA
Triathlon Canada is the governing body of the sport in the country. Triathlon Canada’s more than 22,000 members include athletes, coaches and officials from the grassroots to elite levels. With the support of its valued corporate partners – 94 FORWARD, 2XU Canada, Training Peaks, Garneau, Zizu Optics and Zone3– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, and Own the Podium, Triathlon Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and World Champions in all race disciplines. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com.