Findlay ready for Olympic preview

Paula Findlay participates in a test swim in preparation for the Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup...

Paula Findlay participates in a test swim in preparation for the Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Alta., July 8, 2011. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:26 PM ET

EDMONTON - Paula Findlay is as ready as can be expected.

Edmonton’s triathlon sensation is ready to take on London’s Hyde Park course on Saturday morning, the same course it’s expected she’ll run during the 2012 Olympics.

Due to how well she’s done in the past year on the ITU World Championship circuit, Findlay has taken a lot of heat off herself in her bid to qualify for the Canadian team.

Even though it’s considered pretty much a formality, she has to finish in the top eight either on Saturday or at September’s Grand Final event in Beijing to officially make the Olympic team.

That means winning London is much less of a do-or-die proposition for her in a real hungry field.

“There’s a lot of countries that are putting a lot of emphasis on this race and putting a lot of pressure on their athletes to finish top three,” said Findlay.

“Being this is crucial, it’s tough pressure. I’d like to get top eight here but at the same time, I’ll have another chance to do it.”

Considering what she’s gone through in the past month, the best news is that she’ll be ready to once again tackle the event that vaulted her into international triathlon prominence.

It was less than a month ago that an emotional Findlay announced she would be unable to compete at the ITU World Cup event in her home town.

During morning warmups, Findlay felt a twinge in her quad muscle she first hurt at the National Training Centre in Victoria a couple of weeks earlier. That was enough for her to make a heart-wrenching decision.

Findlay decided it was more important to preserve her long-term health than put on a show for a legion of supporters who had showed up to cheer her on at Hawrelak Park.

Due to the nature of her injury, Findlay has taken her time getting back into shape. A quad injury normally takes four to six weeks to heal and it’s now five weeks into the healing process.

She hasn’t really pushed herself too hard, favouring the injury, but running just hard enough to keep her edge during high-altitude training in Europe the past two weeks.

“I haven’t been training hard for five weeks, so my expectations are not as high,” said Findlay, who ran her training routine in 25 minutes Thursday morning.

Findlay lost her No.1 world ranking to Barbara Rivero Diaz of Chile when Findlay passed up Hamburg to run in Edmonton.

She’s taken a realistic and much more cautious approach to London because of the point she’s at in her injury rehab.

“It’s definitely a different approach,” said Findlay, who feels no compunction about defending her event title. “In a way, it’s taken a lot of pressure off me. The pressure to win is gone. If I have a good run, great. If not, it’s because there are other things that have held me back.

“I don’t like to make excuses, but I don’t know how it’s going to go. I’m running pain-free for the last three or four days.

“If I feel good, it’s going to be a huge run on race day. If not ...”

In any event, Findlay has come a long way since she shocked the triathlon world with her London win in 2010.

“Last year, I didn’t even think I could be on the Olympic team,” said Findlay. “Now, people are talking about me running for Canada and winning an Olympic medal.”

The good news for Findlay is that even a top-eight finish on Saturday will nail down that chance.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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