Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - KM

Any­one who thinks that draft le­gal rac­ing means that the bike sec­tion be­comes a mat­ter of just sit­ting in a group en­joy­ing the ride needed to see the ju­nior race at the ITU World Cup in Mon­treal this Au­gust. In one of the most im­pres­sive ju­nior races of the year, cer­tainly here in Canada, Oliver Blecher took off on the bike and never looked back.

“I know I have been very strong on the bike lately and I know a lot of ju­niors in North Amer­ica tend to not spend as much time on the bike,” he said af­ter the race. “I’ve been lucky that I’ve had some ex­pe­ri­ence rac­ing in Europe and the rid­ing there tends to be a lot harder, so I know I can do races that have re­ally hard bikes in them. I wanted to make the bike as hard as I could be­cause that suits my style of rac­ing more – a harder race right from the start. I went for it in the swim, I didn’t look back for any­one on the bike and ended up be­ing alone.”

Prov­ing that he can run, Blecher posted one of the fastest run splits of the day, too, tak­ing the Mon­treal race in style.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school in June, 2015, Blecher took a year off to ex­plore his triathlon op­tions. It was quite a year of ex­plor­ing.

“This has been an amaz­ing year for me,” he says. “I was look­ing at Amer­i­can schools when I was in high school and it just made sense to take a gap year. First of all, I would have been young, be­ing born in Novem­ber, for a U.S. run­ning pro­gram. And I wanted to take a year and see if be­ing a full-time ath­lete was some­thing I en­joyed and wanted to do af­ter I was done with school.”

Right af­ter he fin­ished school, Blecher headed over to Spain to train with Jamie Turner and the Wol­lon­gong Wizards. Then, in Septem­ber, he went to Vic­to­ria to train with Jonno Hall at the Cana­dian High Per­for­mance Cen­tre and fol­lowed them to Ari­zona for some of their

train­ing. Next stop was in Florida, train­ing with Craig Tay­lor and the athletes from the Re­gional Train­ing Cen­tre Guelph.

“That was the plan that I set out with my coach, Bar­rie She­p­ley,” Blecher says, “To get ex­pe­ri­ence with a bunch of train­ing groups and a bunch of awe­some coaches and see what style worked for me.”

Last sum­mer was spent back over in Europe train­ing, rac­ing and pre­par­ing him­self for the kind of hard ef­fort that took him to the win in Mon­treal.

Based on his solid sum­mer, Blecher rep­re­sented Canada in Cozumel, Mex­ico at the world cham­pi­onships, where he was one of the first out of the wa­ter and amongst the lead­ers off the bike, fin­ish­ing sixth in Cozumel’s in­tense heat and hu­mid­ity.

Af­ter his year of trav­el­ling the world Blecher, who will turn 19 later this month, is now at Brown Univer­sity, in Prov­i­dence, R.I., where he’ll com­pete on the cross coun­try and track and field teams.

“I re­ally want to con­tinue triathlon, but I also want to run for the team and help my run grow be­cause that’s the one area in triathlon that you can never be good enough,” he says. “You’re never go­ing to win a race un­less you are one of the best run­ners in the field.”

Blecher isn’t too far off be­ing just that. In Cozumel he was only 18 sec­onds slower on the run than fel­low Cana­dian Charles Pa­quet, who fin­ished sec­ond, and only 31 sec­onds slower than win­ner Austin Hind­man. Prov­ing he’s on track to be amongst the best in the sport.–

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