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Sharpe ready to take run at world triathlon championship

Matthew Sharpe of Victoria can finally swim, cycle and run for himself today in the world ­triathlon championships in Edmonton.

Matthew Sharpe of Victoria can finally swim, cycle and run for himself today in the world ­triathlon championships in Edmonton. After spending the year setting the pace as ­domestique for fellow-Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk, leading to two World Cup victories but a disappointing 15th place for ­Mislawchuk in the Tokyo ­Olympics last month, Sharpe is his own man again.

“I sacrificed a lot in the attempt to win Canada a medal in the Olympics,” said Sharpe.

“I enjoyed that opportunity. We really went for it. But, ­obviously, it didn’t work out.”

The blueprint was established from when Canadian domestique Colin Jenkins went out fast and expended himself to set the pace for Simon Whitfield of Victoria to win silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But 13 years later, the same strategy with Sharpe and Mislawchuk didn’t pan out after Mislawchuk cramped up on the run portion of the Tokyo ­Olympic race.

Becoming an Olympian, ­however, is an honour nobody can take away from Sharpe.

“Ultimately, we got a chance to compete in the Olympics because Japan went out on limb,” said Sharpe, the Campbell River native, who moved down-Island to train and ­graduated from Claremont ­Secondary.

“It was surreal — a taste of what a real Olympic experience would be like. Even though the experience was not the same as it would have been in normal times, we are grateful to have had it. I am so proud of all the athletes who took part in the Tokyo Games.”

He can include himself in that pantheon.

Sharpe used up all his energy in the swim and cycle parts in an attempt to put Mislawchuk in position for a run at the Olympic podium in the last portion of the race in Tokyo. The Islander, who was 49th in Tokyo, doesn’t have to use that selfless strategy again. Mislawchuk will not race today. The Manitoba native did not contest the ­Olympic mixed relay with Sharpe, Joanna Brown, Amélie Kretz and alternate Alexis Lepage, which placed 15th, because of an ­Achilles injured in the men’s race. Mislawchuk is still out and will not race in the Edmonton world championships, which were postponed from last year.

Sharpe was 23rd in the 2017 world championships and 16th in the World Triathlon Grand Final that year with two top-10 World Cup finishes.

“I’ll go out there [today] and see what happens,” he said.

And he will do so on his own terms.

Racing in Edmonton are five of the six men’s and women’s individual medallists from the Tokyo Olympics. Canadians to watch for include Sharpe, Brown, Kretz and Lepage.

Alberta health authorities have given the OK for fans to line the race course.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com