The plan was in place. But Robert Burns wrote about the best laid plans and what can happen to them. Canada’s wasn’t executed to anything near perfection in men’s triathlon as the duo of Matt Sharpe of Victoria and Tyler Mislawchuk of Oak Bluff, Man., failed in their quest Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.
The blueprint was established from when domestique Colin Jenkins went out fast and set the pace for Simon Whitfield of Victoria to win silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Mislawchuk said he was inspired to take up the sport by watching Whitfield race in Beijing. The plan 13 years later was to have fast-starter Sharpe in the domestique role to set a quick pace for medal-threat and closer Mislawchuk.
It looked to be working well with Sharpe overcoming a bad start in the swim to rally to lead the main bike group. But Mislawchuk cramped up and was unable to deliver in the run and placed 15th as Kristain Blummenfeldt of Norway, Alex Yee of Britain and Hayden Wilde of New Zealand took the medals. Sharpe, with most of his energy reserves depleted as planned in the swim and bike portions, was 49th but that was always the plan to sacrifice Sharpe in a bid to lift the more lauded Mislawchuk to the podium.
“I was disappointed we couldn’t get the job done today but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or a lack of sacrifice,” said Sharpe, the native of Campbell River, who graduated from Claremont Secondary, after moving down-Island to Victoria to train.
“We had a good strategy. I didn’t execute that well at the beginning and had to play catch up a bit. We did a good job of staying to the front on the bike for the most part and just faltered near the end which is unfortunate.”
A dejected Mislawchuk, coached by Jono Hall of Victoria, knew he was a pre-race favourite after several World Cup victories this year and was tough on himself after the race.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s super disappointing,” said Mislawchuk, who did a lot of his training in Victoria, where Triathlon Canada is located.
“I came here to win. This is just gut-wrenching. We [himself and Sharpe] controlled everything we could, but it just wasn’t there.”