With extensive competitive experience, triathlete Matthew Sharpe is ready for whatever the Tokyo 2020 Olympics throws at him.
Sharpe, from Campbell River, is feeling confident heading into the games after a strong and consistent training season and successful performances in recent races. His training, featuring two or three sessions a day, was tailored to his biking and swimming performance — a strategy intended to help teammate Tyler Mislawchuk be in the best position to win a medal in the men’s individual race on July 26.
This role, known as the domestique, will see Sharpe leading in the 1.5-kilometre swim and 40-kilometre bike so his teammate can draft in his slipstream. That will help Mislawchuk save energy through these sections of the race so he has a better shot during the final section, a 10-kilometre run.
“If I can be right near the front on the swim, and put Tyler in a position to succeed on the run, then that will be a successful outing for me,” he said.
Sharpe and Mislawchuk, alongside fellow triathletes Joanna Brown and Amélie Kretz, will be competing in the mixed relay on July 31 — a race in which each team member competes over a 300-metre swim, an eight-kilometre cycle and a two-kilometre run before tagging a teammate to follow.
“Our relay is also a dark horse threat for a medal, so I will do my best to help the team compete at the highest level,” he said.
But without a crowd cheering them on, it will be up to the athletes themselves to drum up some extra energy.
“Race days will be like any other event in terms of what we do, but with no spectators, it’s going to be up to the athletes to make some noise,” he said.
Sharpe is being coached by Lance Watson, who also coached Simon Whitfield to his gold medal in 2000 and Brent McMahon to two Olympics in 2004 and 2012.
“He has an incredibly holistic approach to training that really considers all aspects of the athlete,” said Sharpe. “We have a very productive and mature working relationship that gives me the opportunity to take ownership of my training, while also having the incredible opportunity to learn from Lance on a day to day basis. I am constantly in awe of his work ethic and attention to detail.”
Like many athletes, Sharpe has thought about his emotions heading into the games — and how to manage them.
“I think it’s important to recognize that I will be feeling a wide variety of emotions while at the Games. And I believe it’s important not to discount or suppress some of the less desired emotions. But make sure I don’t attach too much energy to them.”