If it seems like Simon Whitfield’s having too much fun, he probably is.
The 37-year-old was the centre of attention on Monday night as a small idea turned into a gathering of hundreds for an Olympic send-off for the veteran triathlete.
Three Point Motors hosted the group ride, dinner and auction, which included three Victoria police motorcycle officers, who escorted the throng of spandex-clad riders on an hour-long tour around Victoria and along the waterfront.
“The (cops) were talking to me, the cyclists were talking to me, I just love being around this community of people,” Whitfield said.
The idea for the event was Whitfield’s, to use the excitement of the Olympics to throw an auction and raise money for KidSport.
“(Whitfield) contacted us about 10 days ago, saying ‘Hey why don’t I do something for KidSport?’ It was short notice, but look at the response,” said KidSport board member Steve Turner. “We had $2,000 in donations just from the group ride, the auction hadn’t even started.”
In the KidSport world, $2,000 will help nearly seven kids register for a season of sport, as each grant is $300. The remainder of the donations were still trickling in on Wednesday morning, but were estimated to be at least $3,500.
Speaking of the task at hand, Whitfield said he’s not too nervous on the eve of his third Olympic Games. “I have two kids, that’s what makes me nervous now.”
If anything, the distraction is a blessing, said one of his coaches, former marathon Olympian Jon Brown.
“The longer he’s distracted, the better I think it is. (Whitfield) just needs to continue doing what he’s doing and not think about what he has to do for as long as he can.”
“The way I see it,” Whitfield said, “on Aug. 8 (the day after the race) I’ll be in a park playing with my kids, whether or not I have a shiny object around my neck.”
Whitfield also tipped his hat towards his post-Olympic career, suggesting that he’ll enter longer distance triathlons as early as this summer.
When asked about being the Olympic flag bearer, Whitfield thought his chances were slim.
“I’m not scheduled to be in Ottawa, so I don’t think (it’ll be me).”
Whitfield will train in Dundas, Ont., before flying to London later this month.