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Triathlete Paula Findlay eyes the podium at upcoming Pan American Games

Triathlete Paula Findlay eyes the podium at upcoming Pan American Games

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 16, 2015

After suffering an untimely hip injury at the 2012 London Olympics -- an event that seemingly sparked a series of health issues that has kept her from consistently competing ever since -- Edmonton triathlete Paula Findlay once again has her eyes set on the podium.

A five-time World Triathlon Series winner, Findlay, 26, will head Canada's triathlon team for the upcoming Pan American Games in Toronto, on July 10-26.

Currently ranked 36th in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings, Findlay has competed in five races this season, placing 11th in Mooloolaba, Australia on March 14; 30th in Auckland, New Zealand on March 28; a DNF in Gold Coast, Australia on April 11; 25th in Yokohama, Japan, on May 16; and finishing 8th in London, England on May 31.

On Sunday, Findlay found herself on top of the podium at the Nike Women's 15K event in Toronto.

Findlay has four events left in her season, including the Pan American Games, the Edmonton ITU World Triathlon Series race on Sept 5-6, and Olympic qualifying races in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on August 1-2 and in Chicago on Sept. 18-19, which also serves as the ITU Grand Final event. But it's her ultimate goal to earn herself a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games.

On Monday, I sat down with Findlay at her family's Edmonton home to talk about the upcoming Pan American Games and her journey back to the Olympics:

Q: For the Pan American Games, you're being looked to as a leader amongst your teammates. How do you approach that role?

A: "It's kind of funny, I don't see myself necessarily as a mentor because I still feel like I'm young and up-and-coming. I suppose looking back on my career, I have been to the Olympics, I have won big races and I am experienced at this, but for the last three years I haven't raced very much so that's why I guess I feel like I'm a bit of an underdog and I still need to learn how to get back to this level of racing."

Q: You mention you feel like an underdog, is that a weird feeling for you?

A: "Before I had my success in 2010 I was an underdog, but that was a long time ago now. So to return to that position now five years later is a little different but I do actually like that position. I'm not really looked upon, there's less pressure and I can just do my training and get back to racing when I'm ready. I know I'm still capable of winning races but it's nice to not have the pressure to have to do it. I've been able to make way up the ranks without any huge pressure."

Q: Do you think that pressure will get ramped up come the Pan American Games considering it's on home soil?

A: "A little bit. There's going to be more media coverage because it's in Canada, but I think pressure is a good thing -- it brings out the best in me, most of the time. I, kind of, try to embrace the pressure instead of looking at it as a negative thing. Yes, there will be lots of people watching, but I think us three girls have to work together...and one of the three of us can definitely be on the podium."

Q: In light of your injuries have you had to change your approach to racing?

A: "I don't really change the way I approach them because I'm just going to go as hard as I can in every race I do. But I have had to be careful with my training to make sure I don't re-injure myself. Learning to work with a new coach over the last year has been a bit of a learning curve as well -- a positive one -- but it just takes time to get back to feeling comfortable in races; comfortable with the prep, the taper, the pre-race routine and all of that. But it's coming around, and I think the second half will be better than the first half of the season."

Q: Is there anyway you can quantify how badly you want to return to the Olympic stage?

A: "I'd be pretty devastated if I didn't make it. It's the pinnacle of our sport -- everyone wants to go to the Olympics. We're not doing this to make money, we're not doing this for fame we're not doing this for any other reason than to go to the Olympics and win a medal. It's every athlete big dream, it's what we go to bed thinking about every night. It's what I think about every day".

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