Victoria-based triathlete grabs World Series gold

Victoria-based triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk continued his breakout season by becoming the first Canadian male to win an event in the 10-year history of the ITU World Series.

That he did it in Tokyo late Friday night, in the official test event for the 2020 Summer Olympics, made it all more notable.

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“I can’t believe it,” said Mislawchuk.

“This is the biggest race outside the Olympics for me, so it is just unbelievable. I just thought [coming down the finish stretch] I may never have the chance to win a big race again, so I’ve got to take it now. I wanted it more than anything today. If you want to do it on one course this year, it is this course. This is a big moment for everyone in my circle.”

It continued Mislawchuk’s upward career trajectory.

Earlier this summer, Mislawchuk captured bronze in Montreal to become the first Canadian male to make a podium at an ITU World Series event. That added to his two World Cup race victories this season in Mooloolaba, Australia, and Huatulco, Mexico. The World Series circuit is a step up from the World Cup, and Mislawchuk is proving he belongs in both as he looks ahead to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mislawchuk becomes only the second Canadian to win a World Series event. He joins Paula Findlay of Edmonton, who won five World Series races in a torrid stretch in 2010 and 2011.

Five Canadians have now won World Series medals — Victoria-based Joanna Brown of Carp, Ont., took bronze this year in Bermuda and Olympian Kirsten Sweetland of Victoria won bronze in 2014 in Hamburg, Germany.

“The tough years make you double-check yourself. I wouldn’t be here today without that tough year [2018],” said Mislawchuk.

“These moments make it all worth it. I have no doubt that I’ll have poor races and great ones in the future, but you have to enjoy these moments because they don’t come around all the time.”

Mislawchuk and training partner Matt Sharpe of Victoria swam and cycled together and were tied for eighth heading into the run portion of the Tokyo race, which Campbell River-raised Claremont-grad Sharpe failed to finish.

“I had good legs on the day and need to thank the boys [Sharpe and Alexis Lepage of Quebec] out there for helping me out. We worked well as a team and I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Mislawchuk.

The dream scenario is to emulate this result next summer in Tokyo.

“Now we know how to prepare for next year as well,” said Mislawchuk.

The Manitoba native has bloomed since arriving at the National Triathlon Centre in Victoria in 2015, and qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I’ve been to 27 countries now and Victoria is my favourite place to train in the world,” Mislawchuk said.

“A lot of the credit goes to Jono Hall [the Canadian team head coach from Victoria]. There is such great setup and support here with PISE and doctors, physios and chiros. I don't mind running or biking in the Victoria rain in winter. I will run and bike through anything, except snow. I’m a proud born and bred Manitoban, but this feels like home now.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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