— Pamela Roth
The City of Victoria will officially become the nation’s home of triathlon.
After eight years of being in Toronto, Triathlon Canada is moving its head office to Victoria and will call the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre its new home for administrative and support staff.
Tim Wilson, CEO of Triathlon Canada, said the decision to move to the West Coast was based on several of factors, such as already having the National Performance Centre in Victoria.
When looking for a new home, the organization received offers from a number of locations, such as Ottawa and Edmonton, but in the end Victoria’s climate was another deciding factor.
“Victoria provides the best environment for our athletes to live, train and prepare for competition with clean air, quality roadways, climate, facilities and community support,” said Wilson, adding the city has always had high performance athletes, but now those numbers will increase even more.
“At the end of the day, there will be a concentration of services for elite athletes and development training here in Victoria.”
Triathlon Canada is a national sport organization that serves athletes from across the country and acts as the governing body for the sport. The organization prepares elite athletes for high performance events around the world, such as the Olympic Games. At the community level, Triathlon Canada participates with local agencies, schools and municipalities in hosting events and activities for children and youth.
Earlier this year, the city and SportHost Victoria aimed to attract one national team to relocate to Victoria in 2015. The city said the community will benefit by having access to high performance athletes, coaches and training staff for programs.
The triathlon scene in Victoria has been going strong for a number of years. TriStars coach Carolyn Gebbie, estimates there are currently around eight triathlon clubs operating throughout the region.
Gebbie fell in love with the sport when she joined a triathlon club at the YMCA with her husband Bob in 2002. A few years later, the couple started their own club — TriStars Training, which aims to help beginner athletes. Some have gone on to compete at the international level.
A certified coach, Gebbie believes the sport is popular in Victoria because of the ability to train year-round. Having a national sports organization like Triathlon Canada move into the city only validates Victoria as a hub for triathletes.
“It’s changed my life. I never really thought I could do what I have done over the years, which is 10 ironman distance races. If anybody had told me that when I was 35, I never would have believed it,” said Gebbie.
“Triathlon teaches you many things and one of the things was that I could do more than I ever thought. Any age, size or ability level can train with us and people find that very empowering, especially women.”