Triathlon Magazine Canada
WAmelie e documented the challenges that Canada’s Kretz endured to earn a spot at the Olympics in Tokyo this year in our July issue. A three-continent, four-country, four-race journey that saw her earn Canada a second women’s spot for Tokyo, and, despite Triathlon Canada seemingly giving up on the mixed team relay earlier in the year, getting Canada a spot in that race, too.
To say the Olympics was a tough ride for Canada would be an understatement. We were hardly alone on that front, either. Australian athletes, who also struggled with lockdowns and an inability to race for much of the year before the Olympics, didn’t have the races many expected they were capable of in Tokyo, either.
An Achilles tendon injury appears to have hampered Tyler Mislawchuk’s race – after possibly the best swim of his career, he came off the bike in a perfect position, but was unable to pull out the run we know he is capable of.
Throughout this Olympic run-up, Joanna Brown basically hasn’t been able to catch any sort of break. She endured everything from a broken nose sustained warming up in Yokohama to a kidney infection that left her hospitalized in Portugal before the Games, then had not one, but two, flat tires during the individual race in Tokyo.
As tough as it was for Brown and Mislawchuk, for Kretz, the Olympics provided even more proof of just how gutsy an athlete she is. Like Mislawchuk, she finished 15th, an impressive performance and a big improvement on her 34th in Rio. While he’s obviously a bit biased, her coach Alex Sereno wasn’t surprised to see Kretz pull through in Tokyo.
“Amelie is a legend,” Sereno says. “What she did to get our second spot, well, it reflects on how she is an amazing world-class athlete.”
Kretz is all too aware of the support that made her Olympic performance possible. Knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to travel to Japan, heading into the Games her parents and Sereno joined her in Boulder to provide much needed support.
“This road was bumpy to say the least, but the support of my incredible team made it easy for me to keep pushing through all the rough times,” she says. “Thank you to everyone in my corner!”
Matt Sharpe’s journey to the Olympics was fraught with challenges, too. Just before the Games we learned that he’d been involved in a SafeSport complaint against a Triathlon Canada coach.
“The road to representing Canada at the Olympics is certainly not an easy endeavour,” Sharpe says. “However, the conditions I had to endure in order to achieve this were above and beyond simply qualifying. It has been an extremely difficult journey, which almost had me quit the sport.”
Despite all that, Sharpe stepped up to support Mislawchuk. Even eventual gold-medal winner Kristian Blummenfelt acknowledged just how much Sharpe’s support meant in the race – he said that his race plans never included thoughts of trying to break away on the bike because he know that Sharpe would ensure that Mislawchuk got to T2 at the front of the race.
Based on his domestique role in Tokyo, Sharpe wasn’t supposed to finish the race, but that was never going to be an option for the Victoria native. He did Canada proud by finishing what he started, despite all the challenges.