Smart racing is key for Smith
Tyler Smith is targeting a top-eight finish in the men’s triathlon at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla.
The 19-year-old will face an experienced field of competitors but feels more than capable of holding his own and believes his preparations could not have been better.
Although the standard distance — 1.5-kilometre swim, 40km bike and 10km run — is relatively new to him having raced just once at that length, Smith is confident in his fitness after a busy summer competing in Europe.
“It will be a matter of executing a smart race plan in a field of competitors with a lot more experience at major competitions and over the standard distance, which I’ve only raced once,” said Smith, who competes tomorrow.
“My preparations have been going really well. I had a big racing block in June and was really pleased with the progress I’ve been able to make in the senior division for the first year.
“I gained some valuable experiences in the French and German team series leagues, where you get to compete against some of the top international guys.
“Whereas the Commonwealth Games was only a sprint-distance race, the CACs will be double the distance, so I’ve really been using the past month of training to increase my volume on the bike and run to get ready for this race.”
With England enjoying a summer heatwave, the University of Leeds student said the scorching conditions in Barranquilla should not pose him any problems.
“Luckily, England has been experiencing a pretty unprecedented heatwave, so hopefully the heat in Colombia won’t effect me too much,” he added.
Smith, who has tipped Mexican pair Cristanto Grajales and Gonzalez Rodrigo to challenge for the gold medal, believes his swim will be crucial in determining his finish.
“I’ve had a look at the start list, and it’s really solid with quite a few guys with Olympic and World Triathlon Series experience,” Smith said.
“It’s good to see a strong field, as an athlete you really want to test yourself against the best in the region.
“I know most of the younger guys from junior racing. Mexicans [Cristanto] Grajales and [Gonzalez] Rodrigo will be the favourites as both are ranked inside the top 16 in the world.
“Most of the guys are stronger bike runners. Hopefully I can make use of a good swim to gain an advantage over them coming off the bike, but if it ends up being a running race I still think I can hold my own.”
Smith and Erica Hawley, who also races tomorrow, will be the first Bermudian triathletes to compete at the CAC Games since the 2010 event in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Flora Duffy won silver at that competition while Tyler Butterfield claimed bronze.
“Bermuda triathlon has a strong track record at CACs,” Smith said. “Both Flora and Tyler showed that if you can prove yourself on this regional stage then you can go on to compete with some of the best in the world, which is definitely something I aspire towards.
“My aim is to finish in the top eight. I’ll do my best to finish higher, but I definitely have to respect that some of the guys I’ll be racing are still at another level.”
Butterfield claimed a podium finish at the Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa in California at the weekend.
He finished third in a time of 3:22:34, with Sam Appleton, of Australia, winning the race in 3:17:35. Jackson Landry, of Canada, placed second in 3:21:42.
Meanwhile Karen Smith, the mother of Tyler Smith, won the women’s 50-54 age category at the Ironman Hamburg at the weekend.
She was the twelfth fastest woman overall and came 292nd out of 2,126 competitors, posting a time of 9:14:02sec.
The race was reduced to a duathlon because of the scorching temperatures which made the algae count in the water unsafe, with the 2.4-mile swim being replaced with a 6km run.
Smith finished the first run in 27:04, the second fastest in her age group and then produced an impressive 5:03:36 bike, which put into the lead in her age group. She consolidated her lead with a 3:33:44 marathon to claim the victory.
Dianna White finished the Ironman Canada in Whistler, British Columbia — her first race at that distance — in a time of 15:02:58.
She was 39th out of 64 in the 35-39 age group, with splits of 1:35, 7:59:22 and 5:15:41.