Sport

Canadian triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk excited to race at home in Edmonton

Tyler Mislawchuk is looking to turn things around at home.

Mislawchuk, of Oak Bluff, Man., will be the fan favourite during the men’s elite race Friday at the ITU World Triathlon Edmonton, the first of two Canadian stops on the 2018 World Triathlon Series (WTS).

Currently No. 7 in the WTS rankings, the 23-year-old has emerged as Canada’s top triathlete. Since becoming an elite division regular in 2015, Mislawchuk has placed in the top 25 in 15 of 17 WTS races.

The outliers? A 33rd-place showing in Montreal and 36th in Edmonton last summer.

“I would like nothing more than to come out and smash this race and show that I’m back after last year’s result,” said Mislawchuk.

“Performing at home is always nice and it’s nice to be able to give your family a hug after the race. It’s not often that you can do that, so hopefully I’ll have a reason to come give them a hug.”

Two years after finishing 15th his Olympics debut in Rio, Mislawchuk is enjoying his strongest season.

‘Character-builder races for me’

He crossed the line eighth at the WTS Hamburg two weeks ago, and posted a WTS career-best fourth in Yokohama in May.

“I just had a lot of things go wrong in those two [Canadian] races, but those were character-builder races for me,” said the five-foot-eight Mislawchuk, who was battling a back injury last year.

“When you have bad results you always question, ‘Why am I doing it?’ and it made me think back to my roots and why I love the sport, and I got healthy, got fit and have been rolling ever since.”

Edmonton has been good to Mislawchuk in the past. Competing in the U23 division in 2014, he finished eighth and also captured bronze in a junior mixed relay.

In 2012, he took silver at the PATCO Triathlon Junior Pan American Championship in Edmonton, a key moment in Mislawchuk’s career.

“I surprised myself and I think a lot of other people coming second,” Mislawchuk said. “That was the first time I was on a big podium and made me believe this is something I could do professionally, this is something I could be world class at.

‘You dream of that stuff’

“You dream of that stuff, but once you actually take a step like that it makes you have self belief more than anything.”

Mislawchuk’s competition on Friday includes No. 1-ranked Mario Mola of Spain, who is looking to win his third straight WTS championship.

“For me to be having a good race, I like to be up front of all day,” Mislawchuk said. “I like to come out of the swim in the [lead] group. If you come out of the water 35th, right from the gun you’re fighting. So the strategy is to race up front all day, and if I can do that I’m sure there will be a good result at the end.”

The WTS women’s elite race also is set for Friday. Carp, Ont., native Joanna Brown, the top-ranked Canadian at No. 28, is among the triathletes chasing No. 1 Katie Zaferes of the United States. Competition wraps up Saturday with the WTS mixed relay.

Edmonton is the sixth of eight WTS events this year. Montreal hosts Aug. 25-26, before the season finishes in September at the 2018 Grand Final, on Australia’s Gold Coast.