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#OurAthletes: Paula Findlay moving forward post-Pan Am

07/21/2015 05:45 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT
It's been a busy 10 days for Edmonton triathlete Paula Findlay since she competed at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Findlay placed 9th in the women's triathlon, missing out on her first chance to qualify for a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

A disappointed Findlay said a niggling knee pain prevented her from training as much as she would have liked in the week leading up to the race. She also came down with a sore throat and cough.

"Your body gets a little bit drained in that situation," she said. "I think it was a lot of the stress leading up to the race and traveling — getting sick is just something that happens sometimes, no matter how careful you are."

But Findlay also made it clear she wasn't making any excuses for her performance.

"Sometimes you just show up on the day and you give it everything you can and your body doesn't respond like how you want it to, and it doesn't really reflect the training that you've done — and that was the kind of day I had."

"It's all part of the process of coming back," she added. "And although it wasn't the results I wanted, it's a step in the right direction."

Regardless of her results, though, Findlay said she's happy to have taken part in the Pan Ams.

"It was a great feeling to be part of Team Canada — and not just for triathlon — but (to be) part of all the sports, being in the athletes' village and going to the dining hall and seeing all the other countries while wearing your Canada kit with pride."

No rest til October

A couple of days after her race, Findlay boarded a plane to Los Angeles, where she took part in a four-day shoot for a Nike commercial alongside NHL player Steve Stamkos and tennis star Eugenie Bouchard.

"It was really cool — I don't know how I even got into that amazing group of athletes that were also there," Findlay said of the gig — her second commercial spot after a Pan Am Maytag ad.

However, when asked for details about the Nike commercial, she wouldn't reveal much.

"I don't think I can say, I think it's a secret, I'm sorry!"

After shooting wrapped, it was back to her training grounds in Boulder, Colo., and for Findlay, a welcome return to her usual training routine. Her cold is gone, her knee feeling better, her eyes on the future.

Findlay's focus now is firmly locked on to a couple of other big races, also Olympic qualifiers, coming up in the next month. First up: the Aquece Rio Triathlon Olympic Qualifier, which will give her a chance to scope out the Olympic race route. The top eight competitors in the test event will also secure a spot in the 2016 Olympics.

"This is probably one of the biggest races of the year for me," Findlay said.

"If I can crack into the top eight, that would take off a lot of stress for the rest of the year, and (let) me focus on getting ready for the Olympics."

September's ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago will offer up a second chance to qualify.

First though, Findlay will return to her hometown of Edmonton for the ITU Tri-Edmonton — a venue that saw her triumphant return to the field after a two year absence last August.

After Grand Final, though, she's not sure what's next.

"I'll kind of assess where my body is at after Chicago, how tired I am. If I'm still healthy and really motivated, I'll continue the season for a little bit longer."

Findlay is planning on taking some downtime come October or November, though, "Just to let my body be a normal person's for a couple of weeks," she said with a laugh.

As for her Olympic hopes, Findlay's not letting her past performances colour her preparation.

"I think the only way for me to get on the team and have a great race in Rio is just to keep believing that I have a good shot at it," she said.

"I don't want to be too confident in myself because there are a lot of other girls that are amazing that are also competing for the same spot, but I truly believe that I can make it — and I'm not just saying that. That's what I train for everyday."

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