Feb. 4, 2020

The Art of Perseverance with Sheila O’Kelly

The Art of Perseverance with Sheila O’Kelly

Sheila O’Kelly is an amazing leader, mother, and cancer survivor who set a new high standard in sports, leading a team that secured the ITU rights to stage the World Championships in Triathlon in Edmonton in 2001 which was judged as the “best ever World Championship.”. This volunteer extraordinaire is now the President of World Triathlon Series in Edmonton where the city will also be hosting the Grande Final in 2020. She talks about overcoming adversity with a “don’t take no for an answer” mindset and how having a community that takes ownership through honesty truly creates positive everlasting impact.  

What You’ll Hear In This Episode:

  • Sheila shares her view as an immigrant, forced to go out of her own way to make friends and surrogate families because she didn’t have her real family near to becoming a community builder and taking on massive projects as a volunteer.
  • Sharing her secret keys to success for community building and event planning.
  • How in 2001, she managed to gather 900 volunteers to support the Triathlon World Championship in Edmonton.
  • She openly talks about raising children while traveling, being part of the triathlon world championship, and finding out how her husband had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013.
  • How Sheila created a triathlon program for elementary schools. Helping almost 10,000 kids go through that program to date and aims to work with Universities to reach Triathlon as a core sport.
  • Sheila shares a tough period in 2017, where a pimple on her nose became life-threatening as she discovered it was precancerous, undergoing treatment and eventually beating cancer. 
  • Thanks to Sheila, the ITU is bringing back the World Championship back to Alberta for 2020.
  • She shares this year’s focus and the importance of getting families involved in triathlon for the development of the sport and highlighting the fun side.


  • “Triathlon had some kind of lure. It was a fun thing so I thought, let's do this!” 
  • “I think that is key to being successful as an immigrant and in a community, is getting involved in the community and just having that comradery and the people with you are like-minded and want to do the same things. This is what makes your life richer.”
  • “A family that tries together, stays together.”
  • “They do feel like family because all of those volunteers were like your ambassadors. Some of our volunteers turned in triathletes.”
  • “Community engagement is critical, and however you identify your communities, for what you are doing, they have to be part of your journey.”


Sheila O’Kelly


Journey Into the Inner Circle: 

Carrie Doll 

@CarrieADoll - Twitter

@carriedollconsulting - Instagram 

Carrie Doll - Facebook

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