Tyler Mislawchuk Becomes First Canadian Male to Podium on World Triathlon Series, Winning Bronze
MONTREAL—Two days before the nation celebrates its 152nd birthday, Tyler Mislawchuk got an early start to the celebrations by winning his first career World Triathlon Series bronze medal in front of a boisterous Canadian crowd in Montreal on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Olympian took on the heavyweights of the sport in Canada’s cultural capital and stormed into the history books as the first Canadian male ever to win a medal in the 10-year history of the prestigious World Triathlon Series.
The Oak Bluff, Man., native clocked a third-place time of 53:53 in an action-packed race that will be remembered for high speeds, extreme heat and intense rain that hammered down on the 55 athletes who were sprinting to the finish.
“It is crazy, and a dream come true. Every corner there were Tyler chants so to do this at home is more special than any moment I have had in the sport,” said an emotional Mislawchuk, who broke down emotionally after stepping off the podium in front of the cheering hometown crowd.
“I thought I could win this event. I trained in Winnipeg the last three weeks and my training partners made me believe I could do this and I’m so grateful for them. When you have people around you that believe in you it is so positive. Training is not easy. This sport is hard. To have guys there day in and out that get you up and push every day is critical.”
Three Canadian women have reached the World Triathlon Series podium. Joanna Brown won a bronze medal earlier this year in Bermuda. Kirsten Sweetland won a bronze in 2014 in Hamburg, Germany. Paula Findlay won five World Triathlon Series races between the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Mislawhuk credits his podium success to a move last year to train at Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre under head coach Jono Hall.
“I told Jono after the race I couldn’t have done this without him. He’s so positive to have around, is such a big supporter and is pivotal to all of this,” added Mislawchuk. “I am absolutely over the moon. I’m going to have a beer tonight to celebrate.”
The talented Canuck took advantage of a solid swim where he came out of Montreal’s Alexandra Bassin on the heels of the fastest swimmers on the planet in 13th place.
Hopping onto the bike for five trips around the four-kilometre loop through the tight downtown streets that featured 16 turns, Mislawchuk masterfully worked his way to the front of a large pack of 30 athletes who were brought together for the 20-kilometre ride.
Coming off the bike in ninth spot, Mislawchuk charged onto the run course with six of the greatest names in the sport for a 5,000-metre heavyweight title in one of Canada’s oldest cities.
Racing stride-for-stride with the group of seven for the first 2.5-kilometre run, the pack dropped Spain’s legendary triathlete Javier Gomez.
“I knew I was there running with the best in the world. What’s pretty crazy is at the 2.5 kilometre mark I was feeling great and thought I had the race won,” added Mislawchuk. “I knew I had to stay with Mario (Mola) and if I did I’d be on the podium. He is a frontrunner and he always surges so I knew others were going to drop off and it would be one less person to worry about.”
With thunderclaps piercing over the venue and rain hammering down on the top triathletes in the world, Mislawhuk responded to a surge by Spain’s three-time World Triathlon Series World Champion, Mario Mola, and Belgium’s Jelle Geens with 1.3-kilometres, dropping two more World Triathlon Series winners in Richard Murray and Kristian Blummenfelt.
“It started pouring and I said to myself ‘this is awesome.’ I was thinking I hope these guys are hating this rain and I knew it was going to be an epic finish,” he said. “My goal was just to keep hanging in.”
With the trio running away, all that was left was to determine who was going to get what colour of medal.
Powering through the intense rain, Mola and Geens sprinted onto the blue carpet where the Belgian went on to celebrate his first career victory on the elite series with a time of 53:49. Mola held on for the silver at 53:50, with Mislawhcuk four seconds behind the leading mark.
“My legs came off a bit and they popped me off around one of the final corners, but I knew I was going to be on the podium. I can’t believe it,” beamed Mislawchuk.
Earlier this year, Mislawchuk became the first Canadian in six years to hear the Canadian anthem played at a World Cup triathlon race when he won in Mooloolaba, Australia. He added another World Cup victory to his resume two weeks ago in Huatulco, Mexico.
It has been a long road back to the top of the international standings for the young Canuck following a 15th-place result at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games – a race that capped off a year where he racked up four, top-10 finishes.
In the season following the Olympics, Mislawchuk struggled to find his way into the top-10 while battling through a leg injury. Now healthy, fit and with a renewed commitment to stay focused on the process, he is back on track.
“The tough years make you double-check yourself. I wouldn’t be here today without that tough year,” he said. “It makes you realize how much you love the sport. 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.”