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Olympic medalist Katie Zaferes says strong relationship with coach key to her success

Katie Zaferes on the importance of her relationship with coach Joel Filliol.

Staff Reporter
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As most professional triathletes will admit, having a strong support network plays a key role in their success, with Olympic medalist Katie Zaferes no different in this regard.

Coached by triathlon legend Joel Filliol, who also mentors notable names such as Vincent Luis and Vasco Vilaca, Zaferes has been one of the most successful triathletes on the WTCS circuit in recent years.

On a recent episode of the Super League Triathlon interview series, Zaferes revealed what makes Filliol such a great coach and shared how the Canadian has played an integral part in her continued success.

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“I’m grateful to have had this relationship”

In addition to her two medals from the Tokyo Olympic Games, Zaferes has also won a WTCS title and two Super League Triathlon series titles under the tutelage of Filliol.

Joel Filliol with athletes Katie Zaferes and Belle Geens.
Photo by Tommy Zaferes / ITU Media

One of the key ways that Zaferes says their relationship benefits her is the way Filliol balances things out, with the former Australian Olympic Programme Head Coach bringing a very measured presence to matters.

“I love that Joel is not reactive, […], having him being so even and supportive, is why I’m grateful to have had this relationship for quite a long time now.” 

This quality, which manifests itself at times where the stakes are at their highest, is what Zaferes says allows her to fully focus on the task at hand when the pressure is starting to build.

“He really understands me as a person”

Another quality that Filliol brings to the table according to Zaferes is his knowledge of her as a person, not just as an athlete. This, she says, is one of the most reassuring aspects of their relationship.

“Just to have him knowing what I need and supporting me, he really understands me as a person and knows how to help me under all the different conditions [in the sport].” 

When times are tough, the American can rest assured that not only does she have one of the most knowledgeable people in the sport on hand, but that it is also someone who is cognizant of her thoughts and feelings.

“To have a coach who can take you from really unsavoury circumstances to put you in the right physical and mental frame of mind to do your best is really good.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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