GOLD COAST, Australia — At the age of 20, Tyler Mislawchuk counted the number of countries that triathlon had taken him to and came up with close to 20.
Three years later, the Manitoba native has added to that total.
“(I’m) pretty fortunate to get to see all parts of the world,” he said. “With that comes racing but you also get to learn a lot about different cultures and all walks of life.”
Mislawchuk is completely at ease in Australia as he prepares for Thursday’s triathlon race on Day 1 of competition at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He has spent some 15 months on and off training in Wollongong, south of Sydney, during Canadian winters.
His heart remains in Manitoba, however. His hometown is Oak Bluff, some 20 kilometres southwest of the provincial capital.
“Winnipeg will always be home. That’s where my friends and family are,” Mislawchuk said. “I like to spend at least a month a year there, hopefully more if I’m lucky.”
He splits the rest of his time in Victoria, Phoenix and wherever his sport takes him.
The men’s field here includes English brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, who finished first and second in the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The contenders also include South Africans Henri Schoeman, the bronze medallist in Rio, and Richard Murray, the fourth-place finisher in Rio and bronze medallist in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“So there’s no gimmes here at the Commonwealth Games,” Triathlon Canada head coach Jonathan (Jono) Hall said. “But by the same token, they’re all very close together and the person who makes the right decision at the right time will come away with a medal. And I see no reason why Tyler’s not in that group.”
Mislawchuk finished 15th in Rio where he suffered a leg injury that slowed his progress in the wake of the games.
“He took that very hard,” said Hall. “Tyler’s very ambitious and his ambition is his strength. But from my perspective now, coaching him personally, it can also be a bit of a weakness.
“I’ve seen him train exceptionally the last three or four months. I don’t think he’s yet to race or put a race together that demonstrates where he’s at from a training perspective.”
Hall sees that perhaps as a result of trying too hard. But he believes the Gold Coast event can be a good one for Mislawchuk.
“Hopefully I’ve got Tyler in a situation where he can just let it happen … I’m confident with Tyler that when he gets that next breakthrough, it will open the floodgates.”
Triathlon Canada also has high hopes for 18-year-old Desirae Ridenour of Cowichan Bay, B.C., whose talents they see as well-suited for the shorter mixed team relay at this stage of her career.
“She probably comes in as our No. 1 relay athlete,” Hall said.
“She’s an explosive young woman,” he added. “She’s very strong, very determined. She’s very humble. But she just has that special thing that you see in an athlete that when they get on the field of play and they race, they turn it up a notch.”
Ridenour, whose older sister Christine also competed for Canada in the sport, is in her last year of junior eligibility.
“I have definitely raced a few of these athletes before so I sort of know what to expect. But to be honest, you never know what they’re going to be doing on that day so you just have to race your own race.”
Other Canadian triathletes competing here are Joanna Brown of Carp, Ont., Dominika Jamnicky of Guelph, Ont., Matt Sharpe of Victoria and Alexis Lepage of Gatineau, Que.
The women’s final also goes Thursday with the mixed team relay and para-triathlon on Saturday.
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