Saanich triathlete Matt Sharpe is staring a grueling two years if he wants to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
It won’t be easy, but the 22-year-old is off to a good start.
Last week he finished 24th at the men’s under-23 World Triathlon Grand Final championship in London, England. The only Canadian ahead of Sharpe was Alexander Hinton of Kingston, Ont., in 13th with a time of 1:44:26. Sharpe just behind him with a time of 1:45:34.
Though he didn’t crack the podium at the Grand Final it’s still been a strong season for Sharpe. He spent July, August and the start of September training with fellow Canadians from the national triathlon team in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Well others used the location to race ITU events in Europe Sharpe limited his racing while recovering injuries in the spring.
“I was building back from a hip injury in April after the World Series race in San Diego and a bike crash in June right before coming to Europe,” Sharpe said.
The recovery seems to be going well. In his only other race this summer Sharpe managed eighth among the elite, open level men’s category at the ITU European Continental cup in Karlovy Vary of the Czech Republic on July 25.
“I’ve been training with a large number of our senior and development team athletes who’ve been fortunate enough to join up with New Zealand’s Jamie Turner and his elite squad, including world No. 1 ranked-female triathlete Gwen Jorgensen (USA) and former U23 World
Champion Aaron Royle (Australia).”
Also among his Spanish-based training partners this summer were adopted Canadians Ellen Pennock and her U23 teammates, Amelie Kretz and Joanna Brown, who finished second, third and fifth, respectively, in the Grand Final last week.
They’re all examples of Canada’s Own the Podium funding at work. Shining examples in the case of Pennock’s silver, and Kretz’s bronze, mind you.
“(OTP) has helped cover my pool fees, coaching fees, travel to Europe and accommodation. They see this as an important investment and they have been amazing with their support,” Sharpe said.
All other expenses, including races, are covered by Sharpe. It’s logical, he says, but becomes quite costly. Now that the triathlon racing season is almost closed for 2013 Sharpe’s goal is to find a financial partner who can assist him in an Olympic qualification campaign. It’s tough to hold down a full time job, or even part time, while spending hours in the pool, on the road running or biking, and in the gym each week.
As tough as it is for Sharpe to be away from his beloved Victoria he foresees spending upwards of nine months away for training and racing next year as he moves towards a goal of competing in Rio, he says.
“I will be finishing my season in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Oct. 13. Then I will take a few weeks off to appreciate some of the people and activities that I’ve neglected over the past season.”
He’ll miss Spain, but welcomes the chance to cycle along Dallas Road and through Metchosin, hit up his local coffee haunts and grocery shop on Sundays. Because apparently, you can’t do that in the paradise that is Vitoria-Gasteiz.
“All the stores are closed here on Sunday and as an athlete you never want restricted access from food!”