While he might not have been thrilled with his injury-compromised performance in Tokyo, Tyler Mislawchuk showed both his class and impressive talent at the Olympics this year, overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to put himself in a medal position off the bike.
The year hadn’t started off according to plan for the 2016 Olympian, who flatted at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon where Matt Sharpe and Alexis Lepage were on hand to serve as domestiques for the Oak Bluff, Manitoba native. Things went perfectly in Huatulco, though, as Sharpe rode Mislawchuk into T2 in a perfect position to use his run talent to surge to the win. The same happened just before the Olympics at another event in California, which seemed to indicate that Mislawchuk was ready for another big day in Tokyo, as he’d had when he won the Tokyo Test Event in 2019.
In Tokyo Mislawchuk had a great swim to end up near the front coming out of the water, then bridged up with five others to get himself into a breakaway group that managed to stay clear for a few laps before being reeled in by the pack. Sharpe did a great job of keeping Mislawchuk in perfect position (after the Games gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt would say that there was no point trying to break away in Tokyo because Sharpe would mark any move).
Mislawchuk wouldn’t be able to unleash his normally strong run, but was still able to rally for a 15th-place finish. Ever both a class act and extremely hard on himself, Mislawchuk made no excuses after the race and blamed himself for his performance.
“No good on the run,” the 26-year-old from Oak Bluff, Manitoba told CBC after the race. “I am super angry with myself. I just didn’t have it on the run. I am really disappointed … I had some cramping on the run, and I couldn’t run as fast as I’ve trained. I just couldn’t go any faster.”
Mislawchuk would end up having to pull out of the mixed relay in Tokyo, then would be forced to take time off to let his Achilles heal. He would return to racing with an excellent sixth-place finish at WTCS Abu Dhabi to round out the year.
While it wasn’t the season Mislawchuk had hoped for, 2021 showed not only his incredible resilience in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fact that he is amongst the best in the world. We’ll look forward to following his path to the next Olympics in Paris.