Behind the Scenes › Interviews
11 Apr, 2019
4 min read
Joel Filliol is internationally recognised as one of triathlon’s leading performance experts, guiding athletes and federations to world-class success at the highest levels. Many of his stars, including current champions Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis, are part of our line-up – so he knows a thing or two about leading the best to success.
Joel started coaching in the late 90s, eventually leading to a 3 year coaching stint (2005-2008) with legendary Canadian triathlete, Olympic Champion Simon Whitfield. Their partnership led to Whitfield’s silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, after his gold medal winning performance in triathlon’s inaugural appearance at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
From there, Joel’s career has gone from strength to strength, now serving in the Federazione Italiana Triathlon as Olympic Performance Director, guiding Italy’s top athletes towards success in Tokyo 2020. Alongside this, he works with his independent multi-national elite triathlon squad, the #JFTcrew, which houses many of SLT’s most successful performers.
“It has been a fantastic journey, going from coaching Simon to Beijing, to changing roles, countries, and finding the path that allows me to be most effective.”
Following the success of his athletes Joel was keen to share some of his thoughts on the series, how he approaches the races, and what it takes to be a winner.
So Joel, what are your thoughts on Super League Triathlon so far?
JF: The best thing so far has been the production around the events, how each event showcases the athletes, and how good the coverage has been. It was evident from Hamilton Island that this was going to be fun to watch!
Up to this point, triathlon has mainly been a participation sport with no real fan base. Super League has shown how triathlon can be exciting, how it can develop a fan base, a fan culture, and tell the stories of the athletes.
From your perspective, what does it take to be successful at Super League?
JF: One thing that has become clear is how important the endurance, the fitness, and the conditioning is when it comes to finishing a Super League weekend well. Obviously, it is fast and furious racing, but you need the conditioning to finish the job. Those athletes that have prepared well, that have a good level of conditioning to start with, and are able to strategically manage the race (when to use your energy at the right moments) will do well here.”
We have Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis as our series champions, both are part of your training squad, what makes those two the performers they are?
JF: I see them coming at it from pretty different angles, I think Vince is an excellent racer, intelligent, and very tactically smart. He is generally good at all three. I think he can get fitter, more conditioned, and even faster. He demonstrated excellent speed in Jersey when Henri accelerated, and Vince was able to match him.
Katie is coming from a different angle, she is super strong and robust, and even when she is tired she can still move at a reasonable speed. She is trying to develop her racing mind, strategy, and tactics, so she is kind of the opposite of Vince.
How do you see the competition closing the gap?
JF: Ultimately, it is still new for everyone. The racing will get more competitive, the gaps will become smaller, and more people will figure it out. We are going to see and evolution. So continuing to impose yourself on the race might not be the best way. In the future, you’re going to have to work out where to spend your energy at the right time.
Figuring out what the formula is for these races is the trait of great athletes, identifying the requirements to be successful, what they need to do to bridge that gap, and taking action to do that.
Joel Filliol has his gaze focused on Super League and seems to have the recipe for success. With more races being added and more athletes looking to the series as their primary objective he is expecting the competition to become even more fierce. Don’t bet against seeing more impressive performances from the #JFTcrew in the future – Joel knows how to fine tune an athlete like no other, so the competition best pay attention!
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