Chas­ing his dream across the world, cof­fee in hand

Mis­lawchuk aim­ing to perk up his re­sults at World Triathlon Grand Fi­nal in Aus­tralia

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - DAN BARNES dbarnes@post­media.com twit­ter.com/sports­dan­barnes

There are more stamps in his passport than years on his birth cer­tifi­cate, and Tyler Mis­lawchuk is a thirsty trav­eller.

His drink of choice in Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Colom­bia, Spain, Ja­pan, Italy, Ber­muda, China, Mex­ico, Switzer­land, Brazil, Bel­gium or Bar­ba­dos is al­ways the same. Joe. Mud. Java. Brew. Jit­ter juice. High oc­tane. Rocket fuel.

The 24-year-old triathlete from Oak Bluff, Man. is a cer­ti­fied caf­feine ad­dict. He trav­els the globe with a bag of beans, a grinder and an aero­press that are as im­por­tant to him as his bike and a firm be­lief in an abil­ity to swim, cy­cle and run with the top dogs on the world cir­cuit.

“It’s kind of my thing. When­ever I go to a city, first thing I do is ei­ther look on­line to find a local cof­fee shop that roasts their own beans or ask a local. That’s usu­ally your best source when you’re eat­ing or drink­ing or look­ing for cof­fee,” he said last week from Vic­to­ria, where he had been train­ing for six weeks.

“Most peo­ple dive into (Tim Hor­tons) pretty early in high school, but I didn’t start un­til af­ter. I started be­cause I was just ex­hausted from train­ing and needed a pick-me-up and that was it. So I was prob­a­bly 19 or 20 when I was in Spain and ev­ery­one else was drink­ing it, so it was the only thing to keep up so­cially.”

Keep­ing up com­pet­i­tively is also his thing and this has been a break­out year, with a podium fin­ish in Bel­gium, a fourth-place re­sult in Yoko­hama, and enough points on the sea­son to vault him into eighth in the world rank­ings. He is now on the Gold Coast of Aus­tralia, where he will cap an al­ready suc­cess­ful cam­paign at the World Triathlon Grand Fi­nal on Sun­day.

Mis­lawchuk joins Cana­di­ans Matt Sharpe and Joanna Brown in the elite races, while 14 other Cana­di­ans will com­pete in ju­nior, un­der-23 and para-triathlon events.

“It’s mas­sive. It’s a big race for my­self,” Mis­lawchuk said. “All I can do is pre­pare and stay healthy. I’ve done all the train­ing, the hard yards you could say.”

Along that dif­fi­cult trail he has made sure to stop and smell some roses. He cel­e­brated his first ma­jor podium in Bel­gium just as he had promised him­self he would.

“I al­ways said to my­self that no mat­ter where my first podium would be I wouldn’t take it for granted be­cause you never know when you’re go­ing to be on a podium again. Sport has its ups and downs and you never know what’s around the cor­ner.

“The biggest thing for me to do is just stop and re­al­ize what I’m do­ing. I’m so for­tu­nate to be able to wake up ev­ery day and for my day job, go run, swim and bike and drink cof­fee. Not many peo­ple in the world get to do that. I have to step back and re­al­ize I’m pretty lucky to do this. Never take it for granted.”

He never took it par­tic­u­larly se­ri­ously at first, be­cause triathlon was a means of stay­ing fit for hockey, which was his teenage dream. But he fell in love with his new sport, which has taken him around the world and to the pin­na­cle, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. There is no medal to cher­ish — he fin­ished 15th — but his mem­o­ries are very good in­deed.

“My cof­fee me­mory in Rio was me and my dad, the day af­ter my race, at 6 or 7 a.m., we both couldn’t sleep, so we’re sit­ting there drink­ing a cof­fee on the bike course for the women who were go­ing to race that day. We were soak­ing it all in.”

Sit­ting down with a cof­fee in hand as of­ten as he does al­lows for re­flec­tion, and he has a pretty good han­dle on how he wants to ap­proach his sport, live his life and af­fect oth­ers. One of his role mod­els is basketball star LeBron James.

“He’s the best basketball player in the world, but he’s not just do­ing that and cash­ing the cheques. He’s mak­ing a dif­fer­ence off the court and peo­ple think that’s great. That’s how I’d like peo­ple to look at me. Yeah, he’s a good triathlete, but he’s just a good dude out­side of sport. That’s some­thing I put high value in.”

Mis­lawchuk doesn’t have James’ money to dis­trib­ute to wor­thy causes, so he goes about it in the earnest and modest way he can.

“Whether it’s a 12-year-old kid who found me on In­sta­gram and sent me a mes­sage, or some­one at a race ask­ing me a ques­tion, I try to be as help­ful as I can. Strangers or friends.”

And as he knows, over a good cup of cof­fee, the former will of­ten be­come the lat­ter.

ERNEST DOROSZUK

Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats de­fen­sive stal­wart Si­moni Lawrence ex­changes high-fives with the fans at Tim Hor­tons Field, who have fully em­braced this year’s ex­cit­ing, com­pet­i­tive team. The Ti­cats take a three-game win­ning streak into their show­down against the Stam­ped­ers on Satur­day.

GRA­HAM HUGHES/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Tyler Mis­lawchuk of Canada has done well enough at events this year such as the ITU World Triathlon Se­ries race in Mon­treal in Au­gust to be ranked eighth in the world.

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