Simon is one of Canada’s most accomplished and decorated athletes. While still in high school he discovered triathlon, which was beginning to gain popularity, and began competing up to junior national level. Following four years in Australia, finishing his schooling and continuing to train and compete, he returned to Canada and, encouraged by Victoria Ironman Peter Reid, moved to Victoria in November 1997. In 1999, Simon won bronze at the Winnipeg Pan-Am Games. During the next two decades he earned four consecutive trips to the Olympics. He will forever be known for his victory at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, winning the inaugural triathlon gold medal. He followed up that Olympic medal with silver in 2008 during the Beijing games. During his professional triathlon career, Simon won 20 national titles, including 10 consecutive National Championships, 2002 Commonwealth Games gold, and was a 14-time World Cup winner.
Simon has had many honors and much recognition over the course of his career, including carrying the Canadian flag during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies in London, and being inducted into the Canadian Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, Simon was a Toronto Pan-Am Games Ambassador and ceremonial flag bearer in the opening ceremonies. Also in 2015, he was inducted into the International Triathlon Union Hall of Fame.
Simon is well known for his leadership, advocacy and mentorship. His impact on Canadians was summarized by sports journalist Scott Russell: “Simon Whitfield has throughout his career been a standard bearer for his sport, his family and most importantly, his country. As the first Olympic triathlon champion, he will forever be an iconic figure to countless Canadians. His exploits on the international stage have inspired a generation of young people to live the Olympic life and to do so with dignity, grace and a sense of fair play. Simon Whitfield is the consummate competitor but beyond that, he is an advocate for all that is good about sport……..His legacy is without question, immense.”
Now retired from professional sport, Simon co-founded an investment and consulting business, Relentless Pursuit Partners, working with entrepreneurs who promote optimum health and an active lifestyle. He takes his roles as triathlon’s ambassador to Canada and as Canada’s ambassador to the world very seriously. He supports numerous charities, is a founding champion for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, and loves few things as much as mentoring youth to find their passion. In February 2016, Simon was granted an honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph. The College of Business and Economics recognized Simon for his athletic achievement, broad reaching community contributions, and mentorship for two decades.
And the one thing he loves more than anything else is his family, and his most important role of all—no matter his accomplishments—is that to his girls he’s simply, Dad.
SPONSORED BY TRIATHLON CANADA
Upon his return to Canada, Simon joined the Canadian National Training Center while also playing for the UVIC Vikes Soccer Team. It was at this time that Simon was faced with an unknown illness that interrupted his career. Simon was just 21 when, in July of 1986, he received the heart of a 17 year-old boy, who ironically died while playing soccer. The surgery was performed at Papworth Hospital outside of London by renowned surgeons Dr. Mohsin Hakim and Sir Terence English.
Simon then moved to Las Vegas in 1987 determined to return to the field of play. Amazingly, he returned to competitive soccer playing for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, under head coach Barry Barto. During two seasons with the Rebels, he garnered many honors including being named the Student-Athlete of Year for the Conference and being voted USA’s Most Courageous Athlete. After his senior season, Simon was named the Most Valuable Player at the Senior Bowl and was drafted first overall into the Major Indoor Soccer League, just three years after his heart transplant. His professional career included stops in Cleveland, Victoria, Winnipeg and Montreal.
Now one of the longest-living organ transplant recipients in the world and most notable professional athletes of his time, Simon recently published his biography – Heart for the Game - detailing this most unique journey, including his return to Wales to stand on the field with his donor’s father, 25 years after that fateful day when the boy lost his life.
In 2011, he founded The Simon Keith Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients. A keynote speaker, Simon uses the proceeds from his engagements to provide athletic training for other transplant recipients who choose to return to an active and healthy lifestyle.
Simon is married to Victoria native, Kelly, and has three children: Sarah, Samantha and Sean. In addition to his philanthropic efforts, and professional soccer career, he is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Nevada Donor Network, the organ procurement organization for the state of Nevada. Simon has been inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame as well as been honored by speaking at the White House in advocating for improved organ donation systems.
SPONSORED BY SIMON KEITH FOUNDATION