OLYMPIC COACH PROFILE; Denise Kelly – Cycling (Canada)


denise kelly


Denise Kelly has spent over 30 years in the sport of cycling. She is a former professional road rider who has competed nationally and on a world class level earning numerous Provincial Championships and National podium finishes. Since her retirement from racing, Kelly has been coaching athletes in Ontario and has been involved with Team Ontario since 2001.




Denise has been Cycling Canada’s womens’ road coach since 2009 and since then has taken the team to 2 Olympic Games including London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Denise will has a pivotal role in ensuring the identification of endurance women across the country (Canada) while leading women’s cycling sport crossover initiatives in road, track and mountain biking. In addition, she will continue to coach top national team athletes and contribute to the development of women’s high performance programs, many of which will be linked to the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario.

Denise took on the role in after contributing to the development of cycling programs in Ontario as a Provincial Coach. She has been a participant in the Coaches of Canada – Women in Coaching – National Team Apprenticeship Program for the past three years and has assisted with numerous national team projects. Though she will be missed by the Ontario Cycling Association, she will have a tremendous impact at the national level and the CCA would like to thank the Ontario Cycling Association and the Canadian Sport Center Ontario for their on-going cooperation.


Denise on what makes a great coach:

“From an athlete’s point of view, what makes a good coach is that the coach is “right” for you. No matter whether that person is level four certified like myself or level two or level five — that doesn’t make a good coach for every athlete. An athlete needs the coach that’s “right” for them which translates into them being the best coach in the world for that athlete.

In general, there are many qualities that make good coaches, similar to what makes a good person. But I would say that, in general, first and foremost you have to have passion for the sport. The next thing about being a good coach is that you love to coach, in a similar vein as what makes a good athlete — you have love what you’re doing.

One of the things that I try to do when I coach athletes is to coach them so that they can coach themselves. I’m not on the bike with them. When they’re in a race, they need to be able to say “okay, this is what I need to do.” The bottom line is having a strong belief system – the athletes need to believe in themselves because they’re the ones on the bike in the race. One of the things that I’ve found over the years, which can be a bit frustrating as a coach, is that sometimes I believe in them more than they believe in themselves. “



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