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Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk powered to gold at the Tokyo Olympic Qualification Event, taking a huge step towards booking a place at Tokyo 2020 in the process.
“That’s the biggest race outside of the Olympics for me so that’s just unbelievable,” said a delighted Mislawchuk. “I had good legs on the day and I want to thank the boys out there for helping me out, we worked as a team and I couldn’t have done it without them. I can’t believe it.”
Norway’s Casper Stornes earned the silver position, with New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde crossing for the final podium spot. Behind those three it was another Norwegian, Gustav Iden, who held off Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee for fourth. Portugal’s double Olympian Joao Silva crossed in fifth ahead of Bence Bicsak (HUN), Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Henri Schoeman (RSA), Jonas Schomburg (GER) and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS).
An American needed to finish in the top eight to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, and that didn’t happen with Matt McElroy finishing as the top American in 16th place. Other Americans include Morgan Pearson (25th), Eli Hemming (27th), Kevin McDowell (32nd), and Tony Smoragiewicz (43rd). The Americans’ next chance to qualify for the Olympic team will take place at the 2020 ITU World Triathlon Series stop in Yokohama, Japan on May 16-17.
Read the complete recap from Triathlon.org below:
Under cloudy skies the temperature was well down on the previous day’s women’s race but the wind was whipping across Tokyo Bay with strong gusts registered across the bike course as the men lined up on the pontoon.
Jake Birtwhistle wore the number one knowing that even a top-eight finish could be enough to see him safely through to Tokyo 2020, but on the near side of the start it was Henri Schoeman once again spearheading the pack to the first buoy, leaving the Australian a minute back off his rival by the end of the two-lap swim.
Hungary’s Mark Devay and Richard Varga (SVK), Brownlee and Tayler Reid (NZL) were hot on Schoeman’s heels as they wheeled out of T1. Mislawchuk had also put in a good swim while Casper Stornes was some 30secs off the lead and Hayden Wilde had also toiled in the water coming out only just ahead of Birtwhistle.
The front pack of eleven was chased down and by the end of the second lap a swarm of over 30 riders came along the edge of the bay with Jonas Schomburg leading the train, Kristian Blummenfelt, Jonny Brownlee, Bence Bicsakand Tom Bishop also powering the group forward with plenty of hard work out front.
It was Norway’s Gustav Iden who clocked the fastest loop of the day with 7m:07s on lap three before things started to change significantly as the bike segment wore on. First Richard Varga and Dorian Coninx, then Blummenfelt, Marten Van Riel and Lasse Luhrs came off, ending their races early as the wind took its toll on such a dense cycle pack.
By the end of lap eight, having barely been out of sight of the front for the entire race, Mislawchuk came out of T2 and up the ramp alongside teammate Matthew Sharpe, Schoeman and Birtwhistle emerging together just behind Brownlee with Wilde and Stornes moving into position on the Canadians’ shoulders.
This year’s Belgian revelation Jelle Geens was also going well as part of a front five that now included Schomburg and stretched away from Brownlee and Iden, before also shedding the Belgian and German on lap two, leaving the talented young trio out alone and pulling away.
Their gap was 10 seconds over Brownlee and Iden at the 5km mark, but that only stretched as each dared to imagine a formidable gold. After taking turns gently probing and testing their rivals’ reserves, the first to really drop the hammer was Hayden Wilde, still 1.5km out but feeling fresh under his iced headband. Stornes and Mislawchuk hung, tough, and it wasn’t long before Wilde began to fade, leaving the duo to forge on ahead.
Inevitably it was down the chute that the final chapter was written, Mislawchuk delving into his reserves to summon one last effort and pull away from Stornes, punching the tape in delight as he took gold and another huge step towards a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Stornes was equally delighted with second, while Wilde crossed the line 8 seconds back, bronze guaranteeing his seat on the plane next year.
“We prepared specifically for this,” added Mislawchuk, who now needs a top 5 in Lausanne, Bermuda or Yokohama to guarantee his place in Tokyo 2020. “Me and Hayden turned well the whole way and we knew we were in it for the medals if we worked together. It came down to a sprint and I had the legs and I wanted it more than anything today. I thought I may never have the chance to win a big race like this ever again so I’ve got to take it now.”
2019 Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Event
Tokyo, Japan – Aug. 16, 2019
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) 1:49:51
2. Casper Stornes (NOR) 1:49:55
3. Hayden Wilde (NZL) 1:50:03
4. Gustav Iden (NOR) 1:50:25
5. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:50:28