Elite Male Triath­lete of the Year

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - TRIATHLETE - Tyler Mis­lawchuk BY PETER MENDELSOHN

Imag­ine that you’re com­pet­ing at the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics.

You’re gear­ing up to swim 1,500 me­tres, cy­cle 40 kilo­me­tres and run 10 kilo­me­tres against many of the best ath­letes in the world. You’re only 21 years old, mak­ing you the youngest triath­lete in the field.

And, oh yeah, you have a bro­ken leg.

Winnipeg na­tive Tyler Mis­lawchuk knew that he had had a lot of pain that day in Rio. He just thought it was some kind of mus­cu­lar prob­lem.

“I re­mem­ber fin­ish­ing up the race, and I could barely walk,” said Mis­lawchuk.

“I got it scanned pretty much right af­ter the race. I had a bro­ken leg from a stress frac­ture.”

De­spite fin­ish­ing 15th out of 55 com­peti­tors, the now 24-year-old says that he’ll al­ways look back on Rio and won­der what could’ve been.

“I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber those games as be­ing spe­cial and some­thing I’ll never for­get,” said Mis­lawchuk. “But I’ll also al­ways think in the back of my head, prob­a­bly un­til I’m a very old man, about what would’ve hap­pened if I would’ve been healthy, and play that over and over in my head.”

In­juries are noth­ing new to the five-footeight Canuck.

In June 2013, Mis­lawchuk par­tic­i­pated in his first World Cup triathlon event in Ed­mon­ton. He was ex­tremely ner­vous, but was able to get off to a great start.

“I got out of the wa­ter in the top-five right be­hind some Olympic ath­letes so, for me, that was al­ready a dream come true.”

Un­for­tu­nately, he didn’t have the best com­pan­ions on his bike ride. You know those peo­ple that are too un­co­or­di­nated to suc­cess­fully com­plete a high-five or a fist bump. They were cy­cling right in front of Mis­lawchuk.

“Two guys de­cided that they were happy with how the race was go­ing, and de­cided to fist bump.”

It was not suc­cess­ful. One cy­clist knocked the other one over. Mis­lawchuk, just be­hind them, went down as well. He broke three ribs and suf­fered a quad con­tu­sion.

In March 2014, Mis­lawchuk took part in his sec­ond World Cup event in New Zealand.

On the cy­cling por­tion of the race, the bik­ers ahead of him once again fell, forc­ing Mis­lawchuk to tum­ble to the ground. He ended up be­ing runover by the cy­clists be­hind him.

This time, the dam­age was even worse: A bro­ken jaw.

He spent a week in a New Zealand hos­pi­tal, un­der­go­ing fa­cial surgery and den­tal surgery.

He had screws in his jaw for four of five weeks and was un­able to eat solid food.

Of course, Mis­lawchuk per­sisted. He placed fourth in his very next race in the Nether­lands, just over two months af­ter break­ing his jaw.

“How I get rid of bad thoughts isn’t nec­es­sar­ily think­ing pos­i­tive thoughts, but I think about the process,” said Mis­lawchuk. “As soon as I broke my ribs in Ed­mon­ton I was ask­ing the doc­tor, ‘How soon can I train? How soon can I just get back?’”

Luck­ily for the Cana­dian, he hasn’t had to deal with any haz­ardous fist-bumps in 2018, his most suc­cess­ful year to date.

In late March, Mis­lawchuk fin­ished fourth in New Ply­mouth, the same race where he’d bro­ken his jaw four years ear­lier.

In May, he placed fourth again, this time at the ITU World Triathlon Se­ries (“WTS”) event in Yoko­hama.

“I’m not a crier, but I had tears in my eyes af­ter that race,” he said.

He’d had top-five fin­ishes be­fore. But never in any of the pres­ti­gious races that make up the WTS.

“It (cry­ing) wasn’t be­cause of that spe­cific race. It was just some­thing I’d been be­liev­ing that I could do for years. I was fi­nally on the path to it.”

In June, he earned his first podium fin­ish at a WTS Event with a third place fin­ish in An­twerp.

Mis­lawchuk capped off his ca­reer year with a bronze medal in the men’s Equal­izer at the Su­per League Triathlon in Malta in Oc­to­ber.

The Winnipeg Jets fan fin­ished the sea­son ninth in the WTS Rank­ings, the first time a male Cana­dian has fin­ished in the top-10 of Rank­ings since the ITU World Cham­pi­onships were formed.

It cer­tainly didn’t come easy.

“I train seven days a week,” said Mis­lawchuk. “I may get an off day once a month or once ev­ery two months.”

His daily train­ing rou­tine con­sists of two to four ses­sions a day: “It could be two runs a bike and a swim, or it could be run, bike, swim, weights, or two swims, a run, and a bike.”

In ad­di­tion to non-stop train­ing and his own race sched­ule, Mis­lawchuk also rep­re­sented Canada in mixed re­lay Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion events in Not­ting­ham, Ham­burg, and Ed­mon­ton through­out the year.

The mixed re­lay event, with each team com­prised of two men and two women, will make its de­but at the 2020 Olympics.

The self-de­scribed cof­fee en­thu­si­ast likes Canada’s chances: “I think Canada has a good shot at win­ning a medal in the re­lay. It would be with some of the ath­letes I’ve been in the sport with for five or six years that are re­ally good friends, so I think it would be spe­cial.”

Go­ing for­ward, Mis­lawchuk knows what

he needs to do to con­tinue ris­ing up the World Rank­ings.

“I’m just off the top guys in the world. Just off in the swim, the bike and the run. We’re talk­ing per­cent­ages in all sports.

“But, when you add up the small per­cent­ages, it adds up to the dif­fer­ence be­tween first and eighth or first and sixth or first and third. I have to find a way over the next few years to find those small per­cent­ages.”

Even if he’s able to trim sec­onds – or mil­lisec­onds – from his time, Mis­lawchuk will likely strug­gle to be com­pletely ful­filled by his ac­com­plish­ments.

“I’ll prob­a­bly never be com­pletely sat­is­fied with what­ever I do in the sport be­cause I’m the type of per­son who al­ways wants that lit­tle bit more. I’m very crit­i­cal of my­self.”

Still, as long as he al­ways pushes him­self to the limit, he’ll be able to walk away from triathlon one day with some level of con­tent­ment.

“When I do hang it up, I want to be able to say ‘I ab­so­lutely gave ev­ery­thing to the sport, I left no stone un­turned, and that was the best I could be.’”

“I’m not a crier, but I had tears in my eyes af­ter [Yoko­hama WTS]. It wasn’t be­cause of that spe­cific race. It was just some­thing I’d been be­liev­ing that I could do for years. I was fi­nally on the path to it. ”

BOT­TOM Mis­lawchuk on course at the Ed­mon­ton ITU Elite Mixed Re­lay race

TOP RIGHT Mis­lawchuk smil­ing atop the podium in An­twerp

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