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.–