YOKOHAMA, JPN—Canadian triathlete, Tyler Mislawchuk, may be the happiest man on earth!
Two nights ago the Winnipeg Jets fanatic celebrated his favourite NHL team’s first ever trip to the Western Conference Finals. The celebration continued on the triathlon course Saturday in Yokohama, Japan for the 23-year-old from Oak Bluff, Manitoba.
Sporting a moustache in support of his revered Jets’ playoff run, Mislawchuk kicked off the new Olympic qualification period by having the World Triathlon Series race of his life, finishing just off the podium in fourth place.
“I am absolutely stoked,” said Mislawchuk. “I love my city and the Jets win the other night meant so much to everyone in Winnipeg including myself. I fed off that and I’m over the moon with my result today.”
Mislawchuk rocked the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run course through hot and humid conditions in a fourth-place time of 1:46:10.
It was his best showing since a 15th-place result at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games – a race that capped off a career year where he chalked up four, top-10 finishes. Two of those results were previous career-best finishes in seventh.
He has since struggled to find his way into the top-10 following a post-Olympic leg injury.
Now healthy, fit and staying focused on the process, Mislawchuk has remained patient in building his way back to elite form after relocating to Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre in Victoria to work under head coach Jono Hall.
“It’s been a while and I can’t thank everyone enough who has supported me during this rough patch,” said Mislawchuk. “I love pressure. I believe the start of the Olympic cycle sparked something in me today. Jono told me I was ready for a big race, and I believed that whole heartily.”
The gutsy Canuck came out of the two-lap, 1.5-kilometre wetsuit swim in Port Yokohama in sixth place.
He continued to execute his race tactics to near perfection on the bike course. Staying out of trouble, Mislawchuk took his turn pulling a train of 44 bikes for much of the nine-lap course through the city streets.
With nearly the entire field hopping off their bikes and dashing through a busy second transition, it was the scrappy Canadian who attacked early with eventual race winner, Mario Mola of Spain, in what turned out to be a foot race around Yakamashita Park.
Mola wasted no time dropping the field in the opening of the four-lap course, running to a lightening-quick time of 1:44:59.
Mislawchuk was left in a group of 11 athletes to battle it out for the final two spots on the podium.
Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle and Spain’s Fernando Alarza quickly separated themselves from the rest of the pack midway through the run where they duked it out over the final five kilometres for the silver and bronze medals. It was Birtwhistle who surged to the silver over the final 500 metres, clocking a time of 1:45:40. Alarza was forced to settle for the bronze at 1:45:51.
Mislawchuk bounced around in a pack of eight for the final two laps before charging down the finishing stretch to secure fourth spot.
“I felt good all day and feel this result has been in my legs for a while, but today was a culmination of everything,” he added. “I just kept telling myself, I’ve done it every time in workouts, why not today, and I went for it. I’m just going to have a beer tonight with my friends and enjoy this one.”
Victoria’s Matt Sharpe was at his Canadian teammate’s hip throughout the swim, and the majority of the bike course, until he got caught up in a crash on the sixth lap, and was forced to call it an end to his day.
“I took a bad line in that corner. I came in with too much speed, my brakes locked up, and I hit the deck,” said Sharpe. “I had some road rash, but I’ll be alright. I had to make a decision. If I would have continued it would have hurt my prep for the next race.”
Amelie Kretz leads Canadian women on course she qualified for first Olympics on
Competing in her first World Triathlon Series race in nearly two years, Amelie Kretz finished as the top Canadian woman in 23rd place on a course that she secured her 2016 Olympic berth on.
The speed of World Triathlon Series racing was a big wake up call for the 24-year-old from Blainville, Que. who clocked a time of 1:58:21 in the Olympic distance race.
“Being my first WTS race since Hamburg 2016, it was a bit of a shock today,” said Kretz, who posted an eighth-place career-best WTS result in Yokohama two years ago. “I didn’t have many expectations. I know I am quite fit, but I also know I still have quite a lot of work to do as it is early in the season.”
Looking strong through the first of two laps in the 1.5-kilometre swim, Kretz dropped back in the pack before transitioning onto the 40-kilometre bike course.
“I had a good start and decent first lap of the swim, but went backwards on the second lap. Not sure what happened as I have been swimming well in training,” said Kretz, who was at the front of a large chase pack on the bike trying to hunt down the nine leaders.
“I was comfortable on the bike and tried to help with taking my turns. It was safer at the front through the technical course so I just made sure I was well positioned the whole time. I was quite happy with how I rode.
“For the run, I felt very average on the first two laps. I started feeling better on the last five kilometres, and tried to catch a few girls and keep pushing until the end. Yokohama has a special place in my heart. I was happy to be back, but was hoping for a better result today. It is definitely a course and atmosphere I enjoy.”
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy continued her streak of winning wire-to-wire. Duffy led out of the water before biking strong with a group of nine throughout the ride. The overall leader on the World Triathlon Series stormed onto the run course with Katie Zaferes but wasted little time in dropping the American. Duffy surged ahead en route to smashing the field by winning with a time of 1:53:25.
The consistent Zaferes finished second at 1:53:58, while Non Stanford, of Great Britain, ran to her first podium in two years, placing third at 1:54:41.
Dominika Jamnicky, of Guelph, Ont., was the only other Canadian woman to suit up and finished 37th at 2:02:46.
Complete Men’s Results: https://bit.ly/2rCSDSW
Complete Women’s Results: https://bit.ly/2G9C1Yi
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