For the first time in his life there’ll be no stockings hanging for Manitoban triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk in Oak Bluff this year.
“I’m kinda in a sense stuck here,” Mislawchuk said via FaceTime from Victoria, B.C. “I won’t be coming home for Christmas.”
It’s been an upside down 2020 for Mislawchuk who was supposed to make his second Olympic appearance before the summer games were pushed back by a year. Mislawchuk is currently hunkered down with the National Triathlon Team in Victoria after being in Europe when the pandemic all began last spring.
“I was in Portugal and the world went sideways,” he said. “And I headed home and did my 14-days at home in quarantine in Winnipeg. Spent probably three to four months before things started to open up for the first time.”
It’s now been more than 14 months since his last triathlon race, with Mislawchuk going a full three months without even going into a pool earlier this year. It’s not exactly ideal when training for swimming at the Olympics.
“Swimming is the most technical so time out of the water, anyone will tell you, is tougher to get back because it’s a very technical sport,” said Mislawchuk. “You can be as strong as anything but doesn’t mean you’re going to float well.
“It was tough. I was doing gym at home via Zoom. Whatever I could find around the house whether it was water jugs, or whatever. I was biking at home, running at home and no pool. So that was tough.”
But adjusting to some of the other pandemic-related health restrictions has been a piece of cake for the 26-year-old who was wearing masks long before anyone even heard of COVID-19.
“I would wear a mask in the airport before all this happened or I would bring sanitizer wipes and wipe down trays before,” he said. “Even before COVID was a thing, the risk of us getting sick and ruining a race is quite high when you are training hard.”
Despite running with a stress fracture in his leg, Mislawchuk still had a 15th place finish in his Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio, Brazil. He then had a breakout year in 2019 where he won three major triathlons. Currently ranked fifth in the world, he’s hoping a year off won’t slow down his momentum heading into the Tokyo games.
“If I don’t medal it’s a disappointment,” said Mislawchuk. “It’s a race every four years, but you train for four years for that one day.
“I decided I’ve got an extra 12 months before the Olympics and lets get as strong as I can. I’m kinda in that now. I’m a tired guy, but I’m probably at a better point right now than I’ve ever been for this time of the year.”