08/11/2012 10:46 EDT | Updated 10/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Paula Findlay Grapples With Important Decisions After Tearful Triathlon

LONDON - Paula Findlay is turning a corner in her triathlon career, and she doesn't know what's around it.

What the 22-year-old does know is she doesn't want a miserable race at the London Olympics to be her final competition of 2012. The former world No. 1 finished last in the women's triathlon.

Findlay managed just six weeks of quality training coming into London because of a hip injury that plagued her for a year. She wants to build on those few weeks and salvage 2012.

"I still feel like I'm in the middle of race season," she said Saturday at a coffee shop near the athletes village.

"Maybe just like some running races, road races and cross country. Maybe I just need to get my confidence back before next year a little bit I think."

"Last year I finished my year with a did not finish in Beijing and that made the whole winter hard to go through, having that freshest in my mind. If I finish the season with this race freshest in my mind, I think it's going to be hard to go through the year again."

Findlay also mentioned October's world championship in Auckland, New Zealand, as a possibility for her.

Canada's athletes produced dozens of memorable images in London, both happy and sad. Findlay crossed the finish line on Day 8 sobbing and apologizing. She cried during her post-race interview and apologized to Canadians again.

Her tears weren't just for the race, but over a year of frustration that came on the heels of seeming so unbeatable. Findlay won six world championship series races over 2010 and 2011, including one on London's Olympic course.

Shortly before a scheduled World Cup in her hometown of Edmonton last July, Findlay injured her hip. It was the beginning of a downward spiral.

Months of trying to determine the exact nature of the injury and attempting to train through it produced setbacks. The situation came to a head in June when she split with coach Patrick Kelly and endured another athlete's appeal of her appointment to the Olympic team.

Joining forces with Simon Whitfield, his coach Jon Brown and physiotherapist Marilyn Adams for two months prior to the Games got her to the start line in London, she says. Her hip wasn't painful during the race. Findlay lacked race readiness because she hadn't been in one since last September.

The day after the women's triathlon, an emotional Whitfield criticized Kelly and others tasked with getting Findlay to the Games, saying her situation was "completely mismanaged."

Findlay is grateful to Whitfield for advocating on her behalf. She's now faced with major decisions. She needs a coach and training partners when she returns to Victoria on Monday.

"Honestly, I'm more sorry about when I go home of how I'm going to get back to structured training without a real training group there and without a solid plan," she said. "That's what I'm trying to work out."

Findlay needs a coach who can diplomatically pull on the reins if she's in danger of overtraining.

"I am good at talking people into things if I want them," she admits. "I do think I need someone who is a little more strict."

Findlay hasn't discussed working with Brown in the future, but he specializes in running. Findlay needs a coach to train her in swimming and biking as well.

She would also like a few women close to her abilities to push her in training. Findlay wasn't able to find anyone to train with her when she was healthy.

"If there's someone that's pretty close and on-par to me, then I push myself harder because I want to beat them in training," she explains. "If you're with a male and they're stronger and a bit ahead of you, you tend to accept that's OK because they're supposed to be faster than you. So you never really get that edge."

"If there's a track workout and there's a girl beside you, you make sure you beat her."

Triathlon Canada will look to hire a new high-performance director to oversee the needs of its top athletes. Kurt Innes left that position in May 2011 to work for Canadian Sport Centre Pacific. The organization's president Alan Trivett has served as acting high-performance director since then and will have a say in Findlay's decisions.

"I think I need Alan's help to make sure he's supportive of what I decide," Findlay says. "Ultimately it is my choice. They've invested a lot into me, so they have a big say in the choices I make.

"I was hoping I would be making these decisions after a really successful Olympics."

A scan in Australia in March indicated Findlay had a labral tear in her hip, but a subsequent MRI in Canada couldn't confirm it. Findlay once thought she might need surgery, but believes her hip has healed.

"I don't think I need surgery and I'm not going to go down that road until it gets really bad again, which I don't think it is," she said. "I'm running more frequently now than I ever have before."

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