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Tyler Smith puts injury hell behind him in special triathlon homecoming

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Memorable homecoming: Tyler Smith is relishing the opportunity to compete in the World Triathlon Series Bermuda on Sunday
Ready to race: Tyler Smith reckons he will be competitive at end of bike leg on Sunday
Injury problems: Tyler Smith has been battling an achilles problem in advance of World Triathlon Series Bermuda on Sunday

Tyler Smith is determined to put a “chaotic” year of injuries behind him and make his mark in a memorable homecoming at the World Triathlon Series Bermuda on Sunday.

Despite the highlight of a career-best performance when finishing thirteenth at the Commonwealth Games, much of Smith’s season has been blighted by injuries.

Such has been the frustration, the 24-year-old considered calling an end to his season before persevering through his latest round of rehabilitation for an Achilles injury but the opportunity to compete on home soil at this level for the first time proved too enticing to relinquish.

“It’s been an extremely stressful year because not only have I not been able to race but because this is my living and when I can’t compete you start to question the viability of this being a career,” said Smith. “Every time I recovered from one thing there would be something else.

“I’ve had issues with my ankle, then a fractured wrist before the Commonwealth Games and then my Achilles right before this event.

“I was at the point where I was going to call it for this season but I could not turn down the opportunity to race at home at this level against Olympic, world and Ironman champions. If I didn’t race, I just know I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

Having to cope with not only the physical effects of injury but also the mental aspect of each setback has been a particular struggle for Smith, who remained motivated to continue by reflecting in the success throughout this season.

“It’s been difficult to cope with the injuries but it’s part of sport,” he added. “It’s frustrating not to be able to do what I love but I’ve had glimpses of what I’m capable of this season, the potential is there, and so that’s been keeping me going.

“I’ve just been unfortunate that I’ve had such a chaotic year through injuries and as a result I’ve just dropped down the rankings.

“The fact I’ve had good results at a high level in the past means I know my time will come and I just have to keep the faith. I know I’m capable of competing at this level but this weekend will be about doing what I can in the circumstances.

“Now I’m getting super excited. It’s the first time I’ll be competing at this level at home and it’s going to be amazing.”

While Smith acknowledges he is not at peak fitness after enduring a difficult preparation, he is still adamant he can have an impact among an elite men’s field which includes Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Alex Yee of Great Britain.

“I just had to do all I could to stay on that start list and thankfully my rehabilitation has gone well,” said Smith, who believes he has nothing to lose among a stellar field.

“I’m sure the adrenalin from the home crowd will make up for the lack of race fitness and I just know the atmosphere is going to be crazy. The fact that I’ll be racing at home makes it an absolutely massive event for me. It adds an element of pressure but I also feel like I have nothing to lose.

“I’m racing at a really high level in my own backyard and so I’m determined to go out there and lay it all on the line. Even though I won’t be looked at as one of the main guys I still put high expectations on myself. I want to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and so racing at this level is where I need to be.

“I think a good swim and bike will be crucial. My goal is to be right up there after the bike and try to make things interesting. The run will be a case of doing what I can, but I’m just really looking forward to it.”

While reflecting on the special nature of competing in a World Triathlon Championship Series event on home soil, Smith is also well aware of the greater significance of having three Bermudians on the start line this weekend, with Dame Flora Duffy and Erica Hawley also competing among the elite women’s field.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the event and everything that comes with it; it’s great that all eyes will be on Bermuda this weekend,” Smith said.

“Knowing I’ll be racing in a home event is very special, but to also have three Bermudians competing at the elite level is really incredible and an amazing reason to come out and support.

“It’s pretty rare that all three of us are involved in the same event and the fact we will all be involved in Bermuda is really amazing.”

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Published November 02, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated November 03, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Tyler Smith puts injury hell behind him in special triathlon homecoming

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