Coach fears unrealistic summer expectations post-Vancouver
Veteran coach Barrie Shepley worries about the upcoming 2012 London Olympics.
His are understandable fears.
Shepley is a longtime triathlon coach, the head coach for the team when the sport had its debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Simon Whitfield had his magical win for Canada.
He’s fanatical about sport, all Olympic sport, does commentary at all the international triathlon races and will be an analyst for CTV at the 2012 London Games.
What worries Shepley is that people – particularly the media – won’t be prepared to put Canada’s performance in London into any kind of proper perspective after the gold rush at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“I was like everyone else,” said Shepley. “I was loving skeleton and bobsled and snowboard and aerials. I was in the States at a training camp and I had my slingbox on 24-7 and was lovin’ it.
“The problem is we’re no longer at home. It’s now summertime, multiply by five or six the difficulty of trying to get a medal at the Summer Olympics. The world thinks of us as a winter country, not a summer country. So we’ve got to try to get some swagger in summer sport that hasn’t necessarily been our forte.”
Shepley elaborates, not a problem for a guy with a great gift of the gab.
“We don’t do it in any team sports,” he said. “We just don’t have the infrastructure to do it. It ain’t gonna happen. The Kenyans clean up every medal in middle and long distance running.
“If (Canada’s) Reid Coolsaet is within five minutes of the Olympic medalists in the marathon, I’m going to run naked down London. He’ll have done an incredible job to be five minutes behind. It’s not easy to do.”
Canada won an incredible 14 gold medals at the Vancouver Games. They’ve won three at each of the last four Summer Olympics. In Beijing, there was a great hue and cry at the start of the Games as Canada struggled to get a medal – but anyone who did their homework knew the best chances were coming in the second half.
Shepley said it’s going to be incumbent on the Olympic consortium broadcasting the Games and other media to do their homework.
“I’m just concerned that we could have our most competitive Olympics ever -– and the general media and the public at home will be thinking we’ve been an absolute failure,” said Shepley. “I’m not sure these TV dudes are going to fully understand that was just a world class performance but it was 14th.
“I’m just not sure how they’re going to manage that because it’s always easy to manage a birthday party (like the Vancouver Games) when everybody’s happy and winning. I’m just a bit nervous about the whole picture.”