Whitfield feeling wobbly at worlds

ALISON KORN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Canadian Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield's knee is "not cooperating" after being sideswiped by a car while cycling last Saturday in Saarbrucken, Germany.

Talk about terrible timing. Speaking from Budapest, Hungary, the site of the ITU triathlon world championships, Whitfield said he has not been able to run since being thrown from his bike less than a week ago. With the elite grand final coming up this Saturday, this week he has only been able to swim and ride a stationary bike.

"I'm really uninjured other than a bum knee," Whitfield said, in a flat voice. "I have the tiniest road rash. I have some sore ribs, but barely. My bike is missing a tube, but unfortunately my knee just isn't cooperating."

The two-time Olympic medallist had been looking to bounce back from a challenging season. The 35-year-old's best finish in 2010 was in fifth spot at the season-opener in Sydney. On his blog, he described last Saturday's car vs. bike incident in painful detail.

"Really a stupid accident, bike lane ended and 50 metres later car tried to edge me off the road, I banged on the side passenger window to tell him I was there ... he made a sharp right and slammed on his brakes ... I jumped the curb but clipped electrical box and flipped over my handle bars," Whitfield wrote.

"We almost fought right there in the street after I bounced off the pavement and came at him. I caught myself just before being a complete idiot and just stood there thinking about my kids ... It was surreal as he just kept going and going and going, screaming in German as [teammate] Kyle [Jones] and I just stood there, looking at each other and saying, 'Man that was close.' "

Whitfield was helped to the hospital by friend Jan Frodeno, the German Olympic champion, who charmed the nurses and got Whitfield an X-ray within half an hour.

On Thursday, Whitfield mused that if he is still unable to run on race day, he might start nonetheless and act as a domestique for teammate Jones, supporting him tactically early in the race -- just as Colin Jenkins did for Whitfield at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, helping him win the silver medal.

"That is, if he needs help," Whitfield laughed. "I'm a competitive bugger. I want to race."

Not to be overshadowed by Whitfield's bad luck, a positive story is developing on the Canadian women's side with the emergence of Edmonton's 21-year-old Paula Findlay. Findlay has taken the triathlon world by storm this year, becoming the first woman to win back-to-back world championship series races along with winning a World Cup, ITU Pan-Am Cup and the Canadian national championships. And while the results have attracted Findlay a lot of attention, don't call her an overnight success.

"An overnight success built in 10 years," Findlay noted. "This was a long time coming. I started swimming when I was 11, waking up at 5 a.m. four times a week. I've been working hard for a long time. It's nice to see it pay off, finally."

Whitfield and Findlay lead a group of 186 Canadian athletes that will compete in a variety of race disciplines at the week-long worlds.

Whitfield praised Findlay's work ethic and said he had been inspired by the young talent.

"At the end of the day, it's all the hard work and willingness to go to the well that she's displayed," he said. "She certainly knows how to hurt. You see those races and watch her put those girls away."

ALISON_KORN@HOTMAIL.COM


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