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Olympic dream is over for Tyler Smith

Dream dashed: Tyler Smith, pictured competing ITU World Cup in Arzachena, Italy, last year, has conceded his hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Games on Tokyo have ended

Tyler Smith has been forced to concede his faint hopes of realising a dream of reaching the Olympic Games have ended.

Having failed to secure a spot for Bermuda in his own right at the rescheduled Tokyo Games, taking place from July 23 to August 8, the 22-year-old was pinning his hopes on the possibility of gaining one of the Tripartite Commission Invitation places on offer.

The invitation places offer the opportunity to National Olympic Committees, which have traditionally sent small delegations to the Olympic Games. A total of 104 places are on offer in 16 sports, including triathlon, to the 92 eligible NOCs of which Bermuda is included.

To be considered for one of the two quota places per gender that will be allocated, athletes from the eligible NOCs must be either within the top 140 places in the World Triathlon Individual Olympic qualification rankings or among the top 180 in the World Triathlon rankings.

While the original deadline for applications closed in January of last year, due to Olympic qualification in triathlon being frozen since March of 2020, discussions were in place to possibly extend the application process for Tripartite invitational places.

That gave Smith renewed hope of the possibility of being in contention to apply, with the realistic opportunity on improving on his present ranking of 188th in the Olympic rankings, having enjoyed promising form in the World Cup events at the end of last year.

Smith holds 249.71 points in the Elite men’s rankings having finished 26th at the Arzachena ITU Triathlon World Cup event in Italy in October and 32nd at the Valencia ITU Triathlon World Cup in Spain a month later.

The only realistic competition Smith and Bermuda would face in gaining an invitational place against other eligible NOC’s would be from Syria with male pair Mohamad Maso and Mohamad Alsabbagh in 146th and 165th respectively in the World Triathlon Elite men’s rankings.

However, a culmination of the Bermuda Olympic Authority declining the opportunity to apply on Smith’s behalf and Olympic qualification being frozen due to the World Triathlon Championship Series not starting again until May at the earliest, have ended his hopes of competing on the world’s biggest sporting stage this summer.

“Obviously I was disappointed, as any athlete would be to lose a possible chance of going to the Games, but they had their reasons for making the decision and I completely respect that,” Smith said.

“If anything it has given me more motivation to prove myself. I’m training every day with guys who are vying to be at the Olympics and I know I can be at that level.

“I think my main hope of gaining a place at the Olympics would have been through gaining one of the places available from the Olympic Games Tripartite Commission Invitations.

“Had the qualification reopened I would have had the opportunity to improve on my present ranking. I would have had six or seven races to chase more points to get back into the top 180 before June’s deadline. It would have been tough; but it could have been possible.

“With that in mind, there were talks with World Triathlon to see what was happening with the Tripartite Commission invitation places and if there was a possibility of extending the application process. They suggested the BOA write a letter asking to consider the application process again but the BOA declined to explore those avenues.

“The BOA have pledged to keep supporting me and so I have to take a lot away from that and focus on my development going forward.”

That motivation to prove himself will now be focused on securing a place at the next Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held in Birmingham, England, next year from July 28 to August 8, as well continued progression in the World Triathlon Series and ultimately the next Olympic Games, to be hosted in Paris in 2024.

“The Commonwealth Games are my next big focus,” added Smith, who studies at the University of Leeds. “I’m hoping to stay in the UK to prepare and train fully here.

“After that I have to look towards competing again in the World Triathlon Series and ultimately the next Olympic Games in Paris. By the time the next Games come around I want to make sure I’m in a position to qualify in my own right.

“I know it will be a long and tough process but I’m confident I can maintain consistent levels and get the results I need on a regular basis; that’s my ultimate goal moving forward.”

While he waits to get back into elite-level action, Smith enjoyed a successful outing competing in the Middlesbrough Endeavour Graded 5km race last week finishing fifth overall in 14min 48sec.

In doing so, Smith broke Kavin Smith’s 24-year-old national record of 14:57. However, the record is yet to be verified officially.

“I entered the race just to see what sort of level I’m at and it proved really beneficial,” Smith said. “If that does prove to be a Bermudian record, then obviously I’m incredibly proud of that. Every athlete wants to be part of history and have their name associated with a record.”

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Published April 19, 2021 at 6:30 pm (Updated April 19, 2021 at 6:30 pm)

Olympic dream is over for Tyler Smith

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