Simon Whitfield named Canada’s flag-bearer for London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Triathlete Simon Whitfield has transcended the sport of triathlon since winning gold at the sport’s Olympic debut in Sydney, 12 years ago

Simon Whitfield is standing tall as the flag bearer for the Canadian Olympic team at the July 27 Opening Ceremony for London 2012.

Simon Whitfield will carry the Canadian flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games on July 27.

Earlier this week Whitfield had little choice but to play coy about his chances to be named flag-bearer, when in fact he actually knew on July 6.

As a young swimmer growing up in Kingston during the 1992 Olympics, Whitfield looked up to swimmer Mark Tewksbury, who won a 1992 gold medal in Barcelona.

As the Canadian chef de mission for London, Tewksbury made the call.

“(First of all) I don’t usually pick up the phone unless I recognize the number. Then I was computing the fact I was talking to Mark Tewksbury on the phone, thinking, this is so cool,” Whitfield said.

“To be chosen is a thrill but it’s about the whole team.”

One of Canada’s most accomplished Olympians, Whitfield has transcended the sport of triathlon since winning gold at the sport’s Olympic debut in Sydney, 12 years ago.

When Whitfield found out, he went for a run past Beacon Hill Park, near his Fairfield home.

“I was a little bit overwhelmed at first, so I went for a run and was able to process it a bit more,” he said.

“Terry Fox (statue) hangs out five kilometres from my house, so I gave him a high-five. I was listening to (Canadian band) Hey Rosetta, thinking about Ryan Cochrane’s perfect swim stroke and Mary Spencer’s punches.”

“I give Terry a high-five every time I pass him, so he knows me now.”

As one of Canada’s most veteran athletes, Whitfield was an easy pick to lead Team Canada in front of the 80,000 plus fans who will fill London’s Olympic Stadium later this month.

“Whitfield has become an iconic figure in our sport, encouraging young kids, and adults alike, to dream big and live healthier and more active lifestyles by diving into a pool, hopping on a bike or going for a run,” said Stephen Holmes, president of Triathlon Canada.

Whitfield seemingly came out of nowhere to win the first Olympic gold medal in triathlon and returned eight years later to win silver (nearly gold) in Beijing.

The 37-year-old has won nearly everything on the table in the sport of triathlon, including 14 World Cup victories and 21 podium finishes in addition to seven top-10 finishes at the World Championships, 10 Canadian titles, a gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and a bronze-medal finish at the 1999 Pan American Games.