This article was originally published on the Inside Halton website.
Kyle Jones anticipated needing some time to work himself back into shape prior to the Pan Am Games.
Off-season surgery in November to repair a kinked artery that prevented blood flow to his right leg certainly wasn’t routine but having had the procedure five years ago on his left side — when a vein from his foot was used to reconstruct the artery — he knew he could be back up to speed for July 12 race.
He began the triathlon season in Abu Dhabi and everything seemed to be on track until the season’s second race in Auckland, New Zealand in late March. After a promising start to the race, the rider in front of Jones wiped out on a fast, downhill portion of the course. Traveling at more than 45 km/hr, Jones flipped over him and landed hard on the asphalt.
He suffered a fractured sacrum, a bone in the lower back.
“Being involved in the bike crash definitely put a wrench in the plans,” the 30-year-old said.
The plans didn’t include two weeks off his feet before he could even think about working out. They didn’t include more than a month without running. And the plans didn’t include the Pan Am Games being his first race in three and a half months.
Jones said the time off was similar to the time he would take at the end of a season, and said a few less miles on the body may end up benefitting him. But he won’t know for sure until race day.
What Jones does know is that he didn’t risk further complications by rushing back.
“I think there was a little more urgency (to return for the Pan Am Games). It’s a unique opportunity. Not a lot of athletes get the opportunity to compete in a major games at home, so there was motivation to get back,” said the Oakville native, who now lives in Milton. “You don’t want to be on the sidelines. At the same time, you don’t want an injury to linger on, so as much as I wanted to race at home, I wanted to make sure I was 100 per cent ready.”
Though he lacks race experience this year, Jones said he is far enough into his career to rely on past experiences. That includes a win on the Toronto course in a Pan Am Games test event last July. This will also be his third Pan Am Games, and if racing at home isn’t enough motivation, his two fourth-place finishes will provide a little extra push.
“This is an opportunity I have to win a medal,” he said. “I want to be on the podium, that’s been on my mind. I want to go at least one spot better.”
And while his preparations for the Games have taken place away from the public eye, the veteran triathlete’s standing with the Canadian team are not in doubt. He is one of three athletes, along with triathlete Paula Findlay and baseball player Vanessa Riopel featured in Maytag’s Pan Am Games advertising campaign.
Jones jokes that with the amount of workout clothes he goes through and having a 10-month-old son, Zack, at home, he was a good fit. But so too is the campaign’s tag line — Performance Counts.
“It's something we believe as athletes,” he said. “You put in all the training and all the work but it comes down to that day, that race.”
July 12 in Toronto, Jones will be looking to make it count.