By Chelsea White on 11/03/16 at 9:51 am
When Canadian Kyle Jones made the Olympic Team in 2012 for the London Games, it was a dream come true for the Ontario native. Completing the selection process, becoming a member of Team Canada and being able to represent his country at the premier event for sports competitions, Jones crossed off a lifelong bucket list item.
However, placing 25th in the men’s race, Jones left London wishing that he had finished stronger.
“Becoming an Olympian in 2012 was a huge moment. It was the realization of a lifelong dream,” Jones said of his London achievement. “I wasn’t entirely happy with my performance in London and the last four years have been geared towards Rio. I would be very proud to have the opportunity to represent my country for a second time on the Olympic stage.”
Jones first started competing in the ITU circuit in 2002, racing as a junior. He then joined the Canadian National team in 2006 and moved to British Columbia to train at the National Training Centre. In 2005 he competed in his first ITU World Cup in Honolulu and began improving his name as an elite competitor. Three years later, he missed out on the chance to become an Olympian when he was chosen as the alternate for the Canadian Olympic Team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Games that saw his compatriot and training partner Simon Whitfield sin silver medal.
In 2012, Jones captured his first World Cup win in Edmonton, which was only made sweeter by the fact he won it on home soil. His initial victory also came at the most opportune time as it was the race that secured his spot at his first Olympic Games.
Fast forward to four years later and Jones is working towards recreating that dream, but this time with experience and knowledge on his side.
While an injury challenged Jones’ quest to qualify for a second Olympics last year, he still ended 2015 on a high note. The Canadian earned back-to-back podiums, finishing second at the Cozumel World Cup and third at the Alanya World Cup. His momentum then successfully carried over into the new year, as he secured his first-ever top 10 WTS finish in Abu Dhabi recently.
“My main motivation this year is to get back to the Olympics and deliver a performance I’m proud of. After being sidelined for much of 2015 it was important for me to race well at the end of the season to set me up for this year.
Alongside some other noteworthy ITU elites, such as Spain’s Mario Mola and South Africa’s Richard Murray, Jones has been training with a squad coached by Joel Filiol, a decision that seems to only be benefiting him.
“I had a great winter of training with Joel and the squad and have been able to continue the momentum. Abu Dhabi was a great start and I’m keen to build on that performance moving forward.”
“Joel and I have a long history together dating back to 2006 when he was the Canadian National Team coach, so he knows me really well as an athlete. The environments in which we’ve worked together have changed over the years and the current squad atmosphere is great. Everyone gets along well and it’s very beneficial to be surrounded by top caliber athletes on a daily basis.”
Finishing in the top ten in Abu Dhabi was a phenomenal start to the season, but if Jones wants to see Rio this summer, he has to place in the top eight of a WTS race. So while he just barely missed his chance in the season opener, he will have another go in the Gold Coast.
“The experience of having gone through the entire process helps a lot, particularly through the qualification phase. Just getting to the Olympic year in the right mindset can make a big difference. Physically you get stronger over the years but more than anything I feel like I’m able to make better decisions now and that can be significant in an Olympic year.”
The next few months will be crucial for Jones if he wants to make it to Rio, but this Olympic cycle he has more expansive goals than just booking a ticket to Brazil.
“In addition to making my second Olympic Team and having a strong finish in Rio, I’d like to be a more consistent performer on the WTS circuit and be in the mix for a top 10 overall in the Series.”
But another advantage and inspiration for Jones to want to make the Olympic roster for the second time?
He will have another fan cheering him on. He and his wife Kelly welcomed their first son Zack in 2014, so as a new Dad, the dream is no longer just for him.
“Being a Dad is amazing. Zack has brought so much joy to our lives. My wife is also very busy with work so we get a great deal of help from our parents. When I’m away traveling it can be difficult at times but my family provides me with so much inspiration.”