Victoria-based triathlete Mislawchuk has Olympics in sight

From Victoria, via Manitoba, and headed to Tokyo 2020 with a bullet.

Triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk continued his breakout season by winning his second World Cup race of the season this week in Huatulco, Mexico.

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“It’s about learning to win and how to win,” said Mislawchuk.

“It’s about learning the skills to pull it out on race day.”

Which Mislawchuk has done twice this season on the World Cup circuit, after winning his career first World Cup race in March at Mooloolaba, Australia. That was the first World Cup win by a Canadian since Kyle Jones in 2012 at Edmonton.

Coming from Oak Bluff, Man., Mislawchuk did it the hard way by starting out on stationary indoor training machines during the harsh Manitoba winters.

Mislawchuk has bloomed since arriving at the National Triathlon Centre in Victoria in 2015, qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics and “soaking up the invaluable experience.”

The career turning point came with the move to the national training centre.

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

“A lot of the credit goes to Jono Hall [the Canadian team head coach from Victoria]. There is such great set-up 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 expect snow. I’m a proud born and bred Manitoban, but this feels like home now.”

Mislawchuk knows it’s a fine line in triathlon.

“Crashes and injuries are out of your control,” he said.

“Matt Sharpe [of Victoria] has had bad luck with that. Triathlon kicks you when you’re down.”

Claremont grad Sharpe was a credible sixth in the Mexico World Cup race after fighting through a season of injuries.

Mislawchuk also had to struggle and battle through a leg injury in Rio and through most of the post-Olympic year. He now looks on beam for Tokyo 2020.

A lot of the power in his legs comes from growing up as a Triple-A rep hockey player — he played against former Victoria Royals defenceman Brett Cote of Oakbank, Man. But unlike Cote and others from Manitoba bantam rep hockey, Mislawchuk was overlooked in the Western Hockey League draft.

“Four or five of my teammates were selected, and that was the deciding factor in turning [from hockey] to triathlon,” Mislawchuk said.

Mislawchuk’s dad had recommended cross-country running as a way to cross train and work on endurance for hockey: “It turned out I was good at it.”

That was the eventual lead-in to triathlon, although indoor winter training in Manitoba was not ideal.

“It makes you mentally tough,” said Mislawchuk.

Now he goes running and biking year-round on the Island.

With one goal in mind.

The top Canadian triathletes will get a taste of 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympic test event in August. Mislawchuk also plans to be there for real next year.

He has found added inspiration. Mislawchuk gave a shout out to the Toronto Raptors after crossing the finish line first in Mexico on Sunday: “I said ‘We the North’ in my post-race interview.”

Mislawchuk himself is proving to be a Northman to watch.

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