Triathlon Canada is following suit and joining several national athletic organizations in calling the Greater Victoria region home.
The agency will take up residency in Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, bringing it close to the Saanich facilities used by many of its national team and potential athletes. With its triathletes regularly using Saanich Commonwealth Place and the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, there was an appetite to be closer, said Triathlon Canada CEO Tim Wilson.
But the move wasn’t as simple as it looks, and might have taken a lot longer if it wasn’t for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, said Wilson.
“We visited PISE and Commonwealth Place, and the University of Victoria, and couldn’t find the right fit for the size of space we needed.”
It was Helps who connected with Triathlon Canada after she conversed with SportHost’s Hugh MacDonald about a desire to attract another national program to the area.
In the end, Helps pointed Wilson to Memorial Centre, where city parks staff vacated an office space last year.
“There’s no doubt we’ll continue to use Commonwealth Place and PISE, including an office at Commonwealth Place, but our Memorial Centre office will be home to our high-performance staff and administration staff,” Wilson said.
Helps said it wasn’t the original intent to bring Triathlon Canada to Memorial Centre – she initially supported moving the program into Saanich – but the arrangement is now a strategic partnership in which the City of Victoria is a key sponsor of Triathlon Canada and its athletes, she said.
“It’s a substantial subsidy,” Helps said. “We did an analysis of the value to Victoria being home of Triathlon Canada and it’s of great benefit.”
In turn, Victoria will be the primary sponsor with sponsorship on all of the jerseys.
“We will have that recognition when the athletes compete on the global stage, that’s a valuable thing for the city,” Helps said.
Over the past decade dozens of Olympic-minded triathletes have relocated here, another reason for Triathlon Canada to envision a centralized performance hub, Wilson said.
“We believe we have recruited one of the best coaches in the world in Jonathan Hall for our national performance centre,” Wilson said.
Hall led U.S.A. Triahtlon’s high-performance centre in Arizona and it was hard to recruit him, Wilson added.
“It should create a migration where the best athletes move to Victoria if they’re not here already.”
Of course, the Simon Whitfield effect is not lost on anyone. Canada was already known for its Ironman competitors when Whitfield burst onto the world scene winning the first Olympic triathlon gold medal. Athletes transplanting to Victoria to benefit from the year round training conditions was made famous by Whitfield, even if he wasn’t the first to do it.
“Victoria has always embraced triathlon; it is fitting for Triathlon Canada to make the move west,” said Simon Whitfield.