By Mike Rowbottom

March 3 - British Triathlon has been left in a quandary with just 512 days left until London 2012 following the unexpected resignation of its head coach, Joel Filliol.

The news was only learned of last night by British Triathlon, which has no immediate plans to appoint a replacement once the Canadian leaves on March 18.

"Ideally you wouldn't choose to lose your Head Coach with 17 months to go until London 2012, but you have got to respect someone's personal wishes to move on," a British Triathlon spokeswoman commented.

British Triathlon was letting its athletes know about the decision this morning by phone or email, with Heather Williams, the Performance Director, speaking directly to those working at the Leeds high performance centre.

Speaking of his decision to leave, Filliol said: "I have enjoyed my time as head coach working in the British Triathlon Performance Programme, however, whilst I feel that significant progress has been made, it is time for me to move back to my roots working with athletes directly as a personal coach.

"I am confident that the British triathletes, whom I have been fortunate enough to work with, will deliver performances to inspire the home crowd in London 2012."

Filliol, a triathlete who turned to coaching with excellent results - among his athletes was Simon Whitfield, Olympic champion in 2000 and silver medallist in 2008 - worked previously as head coach for Triathlon Canada from 2006-2008.

Williams will now consult with UK Sport on what steps need to be taken to ensure athletes do not lose out in their preparations, with a decision expected later this month.

"Clearly we are disappointed to lose Joel and I would like to thank him for his contribution to the Performance Programme," said Williams in a statement.

"We wish him all the best for the future. We are fortunate however to have great athletes, a world class programme in place and a world class team of performance support staff who are totally committed to ensuring our athletes can deliver on the Olympic stage in London 2012.

"Looking to the future, we will be working hard to ensure we find the right solution that best supports our performance needs in the run up to London 2012."

One of Filliol's main roles was to coordinate all the work being done at the four main British Triathlon centres of Loughborough, Leeds, Sterling and Eastbourne, where the organisation has at least one main coach on hand for athletes to assist their personal coaches.

"Our elite athletes such as Alistair Brownlee have got great support teams around them," the spokeswoman added.

Upon his appointment to the GB role in 2009, Filliol said:·"There is no greater incentive than a home Games, it is up to our team to meet that challenge and ensure British athletes enjoy a hugely successful London 2012."

After conducting a world wide search, British Triathlon described him as "one of the world's most experienced and successful triathlon individuals."

If the decision is taken to appoint another full-time head coach, Filliol will clearly be a hard act to follow.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
June 2009:
Whitfield planning to overcome loss of coach to Britain
April 2009: Canada chooses coach to replace British-bound Fillol